Entertainment » Music

Dig These Discs :: Lars Horntveth, Plushgun, Gregory Douglass, Tony DeSare

by Anthony Jones
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Feb 3, 2009
Dig These Discs :: Lars Horntveth, Plushgun, Gregory Douglass, Tony DeSare

Four very different albums, each offering off fans of these genres a fresh new take-- from Gregory Douglass' dark but soaring "Battler" to Plushgun's dance-worthy debut.


Gregory Douglass - Battler

Gregory Douglass - Battler

Gregory Douglass has been compared to other alternative songwriters like Tori Amos and Rufus Wainwright. But on his seventh album, Battler, Douglass crafts a twelve-track album that’s stronger than any of their recent works. "Battler" is pain, struggle and deep contemplation wrapped in a soaringly melodic package. Songs like "Lifeline" pull you in with their striking instrumentation and continue to electrify with layers upon layers of Douglass’ strong vocal arrangements.

Grace Potter adds some soul to "Ordinary Man", which Douglass matches and even surpasses. "Day of the Battler" evokes the piano-rock zaniness of a Jon Brion production and other tracks evoke Jeff Buckley.

"Battler" is one of the stronger singer-songwriter albums in recent memory. Though it came about from a recent bout with depression, the result is a journey you’ll want to take again and again.


Tony Desare - Radio Show

Tony Desare - Radio Show

Singer-pianist Tony Desare gives off Sinatra-style while covering New Order, among others, on his new disc, "Radio Show." The conceptual album features SNL alum Joe Piscopo as a late-night radio DJ offering interludes in between Desare’s tracks, including introductions and dedications. The album ties together successfully, with a mix of Desare’s original material (he penned five of the thirteen songs), and faithful and re-arranged covers of artists like Bob Dylan, Phil Collins, and Chuck Berry.

While the reworkings of some of the songs might work better in a live setting, Desare often doesn’t give them the dynamic vocal to convince listeners that he should be covering these classics. Some of the brighter spots on the disc come from Desare’s original material, especially the darker "To Touch A Woman" and his lush instrumental, "Prelude." It also says something about Desare’s songwriting when his own material is indistinguishable from some of the classic songs. Next time, Desare should go for more original compositions.

They make this Radio Show worth a listen.


Lars Horntveth - Kaleidoscope

Lars Horntveth - Kaleidoscope

Lars Horntveth’s Kaleidoscopic is one 37-minute track consistings of strings, percussions, flute, bass trombone, clarinet and a harp. It is also more dreamily cinematic than any score that will be nominated for an Academy Award this year.

"Kaleidoscopic" evokes mystery, drama, and a sense of wonder with its playful yet sweeping orchestration. It also seems to have a deep world music influence, some moments evoking classic asian sound and other times it will delving into more simplified acoustic sounds.

"Kaleidoscopic" only falters in that it doesn’t end on the same note as experienced in the first thirty minutes, and in fact the piece peaks quite a bit before its end.


Plushgun - Pins & Panzers

Plushgun - Pins & Panzers

Plushgun joins the latest alternative movement that combines traditional guitars with pumping electronic beats, in the vein of bands like Hellogoodbye, Metro Station, and The Killers. It’s also the smartest thing many of these artists have done. Destined to earn electronic, pop, and alternative fans alike, Plushgun’s Pins & Panzers has all the makings of a hit album.

It’s got catchy singles like "Dancing in a Minefield", "How We Roll", and "Just Impolite" (the latter which has a video featuring "Hairspray"-star Brittany Snow), and the more retrospective numbers like "The Dark In You" and "In Aria" never lose their dance-floor readiness.

The songwriting is strong enough that you can strip the synths and still have some standout songs, like the clap-happy highlight of the album, "Let Me Kiss You Now (And I’ll Fade Away)." But hardly missing a beat, Plushgun’s "Pins & Panzers" is an album that works best with the windows down and the bass up.


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