The Floating Men
The Floating Men|Jeremy Messersmith|Ken Will Morton|Anya Singleton
Formed in Nashville in the early '90s, the Floating Men were quickly classified as Americana due as much to their hometown as anything. Having maintained a strict indie ethic over the past 15 years, the group has released a steady stream of melodically endowed offerings, with songs so effusive that it's a wonder they haven't garnered a bigger following. Their latest — the aptly dubbed Pleasurado! — expands their musical palette, moving away from their roots-rock origins and closer to a sound that incorporates hints of swing, jazz, barroom blues, Tejano, and a bold exuberance that commands attention.
The Silver City
When Brian Wilson began steering the Beach Boys toward the more sophisticated sounds of Smile and Pet Sounds, critics coined a term —"Teenage Symphonies to God." Jeremy Messersmith could be considered Wilson's disciple, an inspired pop pundit who creates a sound that soars on the strength of strings, not to mention the lush arrangements of producer Dan Wilson. But Messersmith creates more than an audio impression; the title track's salute to suburbia, as well as the bittersweet ode to an ever-failing auto, "Breaking Down," both use rich wordplay to complement his sumptuous setups.
Ken Will Morton
Kickin' Out the Rungs and Devil in Me
It takes a whole heap of ambition to release two albums simultaneously, but that's the route Morton has opted for via these two new offerings. Morton's been around for more than a decade, having parlayed his early punk approach into more rootsy terrain. Plenty of feistiness lifts Devil in Me, an uncompromising slab of kick-ass country that recalls Hank III, the Supersuckers, and the Legendary Shack Shakers. Kickin' Out the Rungs is the more civil of the two discs, and while there are echoes of the Eagles and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Steve Earle provides a common bond, in both outlook and attitude.
The Other Side
Anya Singleton may be a relative newcomer, but she borrows from the best — some Nora Jones here, a hint of Susan Tedeschi and Tracy Chapman there, with a bit of Sade and Portishead tossed in for good measure. Lest she appear to be doing no more than retreading others' turfs, a listen to her sensuous debut assuages any doubts about her abilities. Singleton's skills lie in her compelling songcraft, and while doe-eyed crooners like Jones and James Blunt have made emotive exposition all the rage, Singleton finds a lilt rather than lethargy, choosing melody over melodrama.
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