Don't underrate Nina Persson because her music is fluffier than a pillow stuffed with marshmallow Peeps. And don't let her honey-colored voice (matches her hair) fool you, either. As the era's premier Black Sabbath interpreter with the Cardigans, she's written a good fistful of doomed-girlfriend anthems: "Give Me Your Eyes," "Your New Cuckoo," "My Favorite Game," and the inescapable "Lovefool."
If her new band A Camp is so ornate they make the Cardigans look like Black Sabbath themselves, their 2009 debut, Colonia, more than makes up for it with perfectly embittered, Morrissey-like wit on the final-nail-in-the-Bush-presidency-coffin tune "The Crowning" ("So let's raise our glasses/ To murderous asses like you") and the rueful "Here are Many Wild Animals" ("Stripped of our tongues/ Now we live in a playground/ Eating our young"). Catch her before her hair turns black.
- Dan Weiss
J.J. Grey and Mofro
"Here at home, in the spring you feel as though you can almost swim through the smell of orange blossoms, the scent is that strong," J.J. Grey writes in the liner notes to his latest and best album, explaining the origin of its title,
. Grey is from rural north Florida, and the music he makes with his band, Mofro, is also deeply redolent of the South - it's steeped in swamp-rock, R&B, funk, and soul. That's all good, but Grey makes it even better by matching the pungent sounds to a first-rate batch of songs, from the evocative but unsentimental reminiscence of the rocking title track to the gentle idealism of "I Believe (in Everything)," the ballad that closes the set.
- Nick Cristiano
Yes, Kat Edmonson once appeared as a contestant during season two of
, singing "Fever." But don't let that sway you from considering this clarion-clear vocal jazzbo. The hypnotically quirky singer might have gotten tagged by Simon Cowell as a mod Doris Day type. But in my mind, that would be a compliment. Edmonson's softly girlish voice is handsome and supple. The arrangements on her newly released debut album,
Take to the Sky
, are sympathetic yet cuttingly cool. When Edmonson croons her version of Henry Mancini's 1964 classic "Charade," she does so with the blessing of the song's original producer, Al Schmitt, who mixed the entirety of
Take to the Sky
. And although this album has originals and classic standards galore (a thumping version of Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things" is pretty sweet), little is as fabulous as her bossa nova interpretation of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven." Suave.
- A.D. Amorosi