It’s local release-party week for Young Man and Ami Saraiya, as well as for Frames/Swell Season frontman Glen Hansard, whom we’ve sort of adopted.
Seeking outside help for the first time, Young Man — a.k.a. Chicago boy Colin Caulfield — left his self-production proclivities at the altar and sought the help of veteran knob-twiddler (and human Tortoise) John McEntire. Vol. 1 (Frenchkiss) slowly unfurls during the opening half, so plush and airy that it’s several atmospheric layers above dream-pop. Caulfield and McEntire fill the space, however, giving the album an estimable density that gives Caulfield’s semi-androgynous voice heft. By the sixth track, “Wasted,” rhythms pick up more and Vol. 1 seems to close on a direction. More on that, we presume, in Vol. 2. (Tuesday@Lincoln Hall with Catacombz and Mines.)
Our “Around Hear” column is intentionally a magnet for raw and developing talents, which actually finds more artists playing it safe than that description implies. Fortunately for us, Ami Saraiya & The Outcome have never liked wearing helmets. Saraiya’s in full bluster on Soundproof Box, a head-on collision between Regina Spektor whimsy and Calexico. She waltzes in Paris and later in Cuernavaca, blows raspberries, and dabbles in lullaby melodies. The way she occasionally flutters her voice is as if she’s the only one in the room, sifting through stacks of old movies and imagining she’s been asked to join the chorus line. (Wednesday@Ace Bar with Shelley Miller and KF Jacques.)
The temptation is to blame Rhythm & Repose‘s miserable disposition on the whole Once experience, where Glen Hansard received Tonys and an Oscar in exchange for having to constantly travel and perform in the presence of his ex-girlfriend (who sings backup on the record). But the truth is Hansard has always been this miserable — Once‘s centerpiece, “Falling Slowly,” was originally a Frames song — and being an Irish rockstar never saved his forlorn lyrics from being borderline emo. His solo debut can barely get out of bed, never building past a midtempo rumble and barren of the trademark wit and charm he relays in concert. He wakes up to give a holler on “Bird Of Sorrow” — a song title that couldn’t be more indicative of this album’s mood. (Tuesday@Vic Theatre with Lisa Hannigan.)
— Steve Forstneger