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  • Rich Kassirer

CD Reviews: Lake Street Dive, Lucinda Black Bear, the Bowmans

Lake Street Dive, “Lake Street Dive"

Band members Rachel Price, Michael Olson, Bridget Kearney and Michael Calabrese met at New England Conservatory, but don’t let that dissuade you from putting on this album and dancing around your living room because as Lake Street Dive they play … a wicked mix of country/bluegrass/soul music.

  Price’s voice is soulful, sweet and moving and is backed by solid musicianship, that includes Olson’s enthusiastic guitar and splendid trumpet interludes, Kearney’s acoustic bass, and Calabrese’s steady, sometimes funky beats as well as keyboards.

  The sound of organ, bass and drums is intoxicating on “Don’t Make Me Hold Your Hand.’’ “Henriette” opens with guitar licks reminiscent of early Beatles but then quickly turns into a funky, jazzy tune with a Kearney bass solo in the middle! “Miss Disregard” is a great kiss-off song and “Elijah” is just pure, bouncy fun. “Neighbor Song” opens with the line “I can hear my neighbors making love upstairs/There love is rattling my tables and my chairs.” You think it might be a funny song but it instead explores a sadness of loss of love. A beautiful trumpet solo echoes the heartache and wanting. Lake Street Dive is another in a long line of great, homespun artists picked up by the small Western Mass. label Signature Sounds.

Lucinda Black Bear, “Knives

  It’s always fun when you come across a band that sounds new and different. Of course, if it doesn’t sound good, who cares? Luckily for us, New York-based Lucinda Black Bear, sounds both different and good.

  Its second album, “Knives,” on the small Eastern Spurs label, the group — Christian Gibbs on vocals and guitar, Mike Cohen on bass, Kristin Mueller on drums, Chad Hammer on cello – stretches out, adding intricate arrangements that include loops and feedback to its folk-based tunes. It’s a sound that’s not simple to describe: equal parts experimental folk, indie rock, and chamber pop. One song may have the arc of Arcade Fire-esque indie pop, the next will soar like a new-school version of Queen.

  “Hand Bible,” with its guitar-plucked melody and electronica, starts slowly and builds to a crescendo of instruments, drums and bass crashing over Gibbs plaintive vocals. Our favorites include “Laugh at My Tears,” which features a full chorus and guitar break a la Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the neo-country of “She’s a Killer” and rocking “Suffocation Blues.”

The Bowmans, “Live at PowerPlay Studios

  Sarah and Claire Bowman, twin sisters who have been performing around New York City for years, were recently invited to record these 13 songs – some new, some from past albums – live at the famous Powerplay studio in Maur, Switzerland, a place they have returned to often.

Sarah wrote most of the tracks and plays guitar, while Claire provides the harmonies and percussion, oh, and the album art.

  Playing live proves to be inspiring as this album is filled with the pair’s beautiful shared harmonies.

Back-to-back songs “You’re Right,’’ which urgently rocks on its acoustic guitar backing, and “The Kitchen Song’’ are particularly ear-catching.

  On “On the Road,’’ Sarah sings: “The bumpy road might break your toes, so you will never know/But I’ll take my chances, cut my losses. ’Cause I would rather go.” Sounds like they had a good trip.

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