As beardy indie rock dudes from the Pacific Northwest go, the Portland, Ore., quintet Blitzen Trapper are more manically energetic and stylistically varied than most. And on the band's '70s-centric new album
Destroyer of the Void
, lead singer and songwriter Eric Earley - who doesn't even have a beard - does display serious accomplishment and affection for Me Decade rock stylings, from Laurel Canyon country folk to Electric Light Orchestra prog-pop to Bob Dylan-inspired wheezy-voiced word-slinging. Unfortunately named but quite worthy Seattle folk-rock woodsmen Moondoggies open.
- Dan DeLuca
The songwriter behind Feist's cute hit "1234," Australia's Sally Seltmann has shed her previous New Buffalo moniker on her third album,
Heart That's Pounding
. Released on Broken Social Scene's Arts & Crafts label, the album is piled high with cascading orchestral flourishes and starry-eyed girl-group soul. Seltmann uses her latest batch of beautiful songs as self-therapy, reminding herself in the lyrics to embrace each new day and conquer her very real shyness. Coaxing timeless melodies from piano and keyboards only to match them with her hushed quiver of a voice, Seltmann is touring the States with a reduced version of the crack backing band that appears on the album. The result is pop as it should be: snappy and sophisticated yet eagerly accessible.
- Doug Wallen
Not to diss some of the cats on this bill, such as Mario, Lloyd Banks, and Trey Songz (OK, it's a diss), but this gig is all Ludacris and B.o.B, a meeting of the old vet and the new buck.
B.o.B, the new guy from Atlanta, has been waiting to drop his debut CD since "Cloud 9" was a hit. B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray rewards the anticipation. His eccentric flow has the feel of Ali's rope-a-dope (check "Trippin'," for example), his lyrics are smartly done ("Camera" looks at strippers without being salacious), and for a guy who likes his beats thick and syrupy, "Not Alone" could pass for a hard-rocking Dead Weather song. That's some diversity B.o.B has there. Still he'd have to wake up pretty early to beat cool old hand Luda at the rap game. The verdict may still be out on his most recent CD, Battle of the Sexes, and its duets with Ne-Yo, Lil' Kim and Eve. But with tracks like "Stand Up," and "Number One Spot," this Southern gentleman, with one of hip-hop's most distinctive voices and roller-coasterish flows, has been making sensational hip-hop since before B.o.B hit grade school. Shake your money-maker to that.
- A.D. Amorosi