Ray LaMontagne hasn’t released an album in over two years, but that isn’t stopping him from touring on his laurels. Maybe this acoustic jaunt will inspire him to punch in his songwriter time card and return to the studio to follow-up the four albums that turned this New Hampshire-born, former shoe factory worker into an in-demand lumberjack troubadour.
Singing directly from the gut, LaMontagne’s vocals remain soft without a hint of weakness. Delivering emotionally complex lyrics with the ease of a fairytale giant uprooting a tree with the flick of a finger, his choruses are simple and combine seamlessly with humble melodies. Violin and piano add a touch of whimsy to LaMontagne’s oft-painful recollections and the relaxed country vibe helps the gut-wrenching admissions go down smoothly. He manages to sing so eloquently on all the things we want to say, but never do, making his music bittersweet reflections of our own lives. Irish lass Lisa Hannigan popped up in New York and few dates following to wrap her ethereal glow around LaMontagne’s gruff exterior. Cross your fingers Chicago. (Friday and Saturday@Chicago Theatre.)
Politically charged the Coup continue to rattle hip-hop’s cages with its sixth full-length, Sorry To Bother You (Anti) more than 20 years after forming in Oakland, Calif. The album is jam-packed with the infectious dance beats and aggressive lyrics that are the backbone of the band. The single “The Magic Clap” comes out almost as a cheer, while other songs exist to instigate. “You Are Not A Riot (An RSVP From David Siquieros To Andy Warhol)” creates a fake fight between two dead artists, obviously twisting a knife in the sides of Warhol addicts. The Coup flusters, if not downright insults anything mainstream, politically unjust or entitled. “Your Parents’ Cocaine,” featuring Justin Sane of Anti-Flag, spouts prose that bashes the over-privileged to the zany buzz of a kazoo, giving it the feel of an animated, message-pushing “Sesame Street” short.
The Coup excels in manipulating its own style. Sounds range from hip-hop, dance beats, funk, punk, soul, and even polka. New Age bass lines combine with funky guitars, harmonizing violins, and soulful vocals to create an album of undoubtedly danceable tracks, anchored by the larger-than-life presence of frontman Boots Riley. Creating amazing aurally pleasing beats to weave around lyrics that warrant serious thought is the band’s *Mary Poppins-inspired, spoon-full-of-sugar trick. (Friday@Mayne Stage with Japanther and SamIAm The MC.)
— Mary Scannell