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Frosted Blake

| May 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

Out of the bedroom and into the fire: the fact James Blake has chosen to tour America either speaks to a fealty to public demand or an actual need for cash, because otherwise it’s completely counterintuitive.

Dropping tracks like paper airplanes from his apartment, Blake made a name in the blogosphere by crafting naked — nearly petrified — dubstep/R&B with his ghostly, garbled moan arranged against an increasingly bleak performance of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.” Despite proving to have considerable remixing talents — Mount Kimbi, Malas — his self-titled debut on Universal Republic holds this aesthetic true for its duration. It’s headphone listening at its most essential, something bound to be savaged by rockist critics on the loose at South By Southwest (which it was).

It doesn’t sound like it was recorded to be heard live, which kind of gives Blake a practice swing for his maiden voyage. If he’s great, fantastic. If not, well, wait for him to compose something that’s supposed to be enjoyed over beers on a Sunday night. It can’t be as useless an import as Ellie Goulding, right? (Sunday@Lincoln Hall with Active Child.)

Jessica Lea Mayfield‘s latest, Tell Me (Nonesuch), was meant to be heard live, though its reputation might give folks the wrong idea. Just like her first album, Blasphemy, So Heartfelt (Polymer), the collection was produced by fellow Ohioan Dan Auerbach, he of Black Keys fame. Far from what Jack White did for Loretta Lynn, Auerbach plays a lot of instruments but leaves no footsteps, concentrating on Mayfield’s Chianti-dry delivery and limiting the arrangements to basic support roles. While lacking an absolute stunner like Blasphemy‘s “We’ve Never Lied,” the work as a whole will hopefully convince doubters that she’s the puppetmaster, not him. (Saturday@Schubas with Nathaniel Rateliff.)

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Featured, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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