Subterranean Finds

Digging below the surface to discover some exceptional new sounds

Patrick Bloom

Moses

Memorable melodies, haunting refrains, and breathtaking performances find Moses echoing the influences of earlier pop prophets. No matter that Bloom hails from Iowa — here's an album etched in the tradition of Jackson Browne, Brian Wilson, and other singer/songwriter types of the '60s and '70s. This music would make his predecessors proud, given that it echoes the boundless possibilities and wide-eyed innocence of that earlier era. Song-centric to a fault, Bloom has a way of writing tunes that captivate even on first encounter. (www.patrickbloom.com)

Mary Cutrufello

35

Mary Cutrufello purveys a populist approach in her music that's generally left to male singers like Springsteen, Mellencamp, and Seger. And while she does cover the Boss via a tough, rendition of "Take 'Em as They Come," she truly makes the song her own on her first release in a decade. 35 shows Cutrufello is as irreverent and uncompromising as ever. "Bring on the Night," "American Rain," "Out of the Fire," and "Sonic Girls" are flush with drive and determination, a fiery blend of rock, funk, blues, and soul that's powerful and always on point.

(www.marycutrufello.com)

Jeff Larson

Left of a Dream

So why isn't Jeff Larson a star? Suffice it to say he's long overdue. Admittedly, Larson's old school — his lingering melodies boast enough hooks to supply a fishing fleet, and his supple vocals are both beautiful and beguiling without sounding saccharine. Credit in part his bond with the band America; like them, his music is etched in an accessible and engaging tunefulness that radio once loved but has sadly forsaken. Left of a Dream is a nocturnal delight, and its best track, "Where Is Indio, CA" suggests a visit is long overdue. (www.jefflarson-music.com)

The Spongetones

Too Clever by Half

It's almost incomprehensible that a band as good as the Spongetones can release 11 exemplary albums of pristine power pop over the course of 30 years and receive barely a ripple of recognition in return. How can a band that makes music so effusive and engaging still find itself so far below the radar? Fans of the Beatles, XTC, REM, and other similarly melodically endowed combos will find a lot to love in this North Carolina quartet. Last year's 26-track best-of, aptly titled Always Carry On, provides a perfect primer, while their latest, Too Clever by Half, offers 18 more catchy, clever songs to keep you connected. (www.spongetones.com)

 
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