CD reviews: Stereo Deal debuts; D’ Sound’s latest

By Jackie Dosmanos

Posted at Jan 19 2015 06:15 PM | Updated as of Jan 20 2015 02:15 AM

Stereo Deal
"Singularity"

The band name looks pretty innocuous, even silly, that it could be keeping hordes of potential admirers at bay. At best, the Stereo Deal moniker sounds like a '60s tribute group whose members still refer to their record player as hi-fi. At worst, it could be misread as a cheap stunt to sell outmoded stuff at bargain prices.

Ay, miss this band at your peril because Stereo Deal has just released one of the finest dance-punk albums of the last three years. Well, the last great one would be a toss-up between the previous Sandwich album or Pedicab’s debut. Stereo Deal twists the post-new wave sound of their predecessors by incorporating industrial rock, emotive vocals and a pulp fiction slant.

The first track “Relentless” desiccates origins from The Strokes and Bloc Party into steady bursts of melodic post-punk. “Grundy” and “The Spin” fondle your eardrums with a melancholic pop tunefulness. “August” falters in musicality but “New Jersey” quickly picks up the slack.

In each of the eight tracks, band leader and chief songwriter Adrian Arcega may be pleading his case but keep your empathy close to the vest. In “Hush,” he could actually be singing about a sex-obsessed lover or a peeping stalker. “Hypertime” posits the notion that the love you spurned in this universe may be on the verge of a happy ever after, in another dimension.

Discerning ears may hear throwbacks in "Singularity" but it’s never too much too soon. Indeed, the resonances are a constant source of pleasures.

*****

D’ Sound
"Signs"

Norwegian trio D’ Sound became a household and dancefloor name in these parts with their stylish acid-jazz croon, “Tattooed On My Mind.” Up until now, they’re a one-hit wonder, appealing mostly to fans of ‘90s fusion and pop-jazz.

In 2010, the group pared down to a duo and regrouped in 2013 to release a new album. On their latest “Signs,” the instrumental duo of bassist Johnny Sjo and drummer Kim Olfstad is half of the sonic focus. They lay down the usual jazz funk that wouldn’t be out of place in 5-star hotel music lounges.

A vocodered voice distorts the pace in “Lose Control.” Rapper Lido adds fun to the loose funky pop of “Jennifer.”

The other musical half, vocalist Simone Larsen-Eriksrud, essays the ballads as if remembering better times tattooed in her mind. She actually becomes more animated when the backbeat turns to a hot jam, and just as swiftly able to transform into a cute pop idol most especially in “Jennifer.” She’s even one jolly disco queen in the DJ edits of the bonus track “WinIt.”

D’ Sound seems happy revisiting their old haunts. No major surprise at all, and that’s to be expected.

*****

In This Moment
"Black Widow"

Girl power can be a tricky proposition in the batter and ram discord of today’s metal. Singer Maria Brink is taking chances and for two albums with her band In This Moment, she’s been spewing lyrical venoms on traumatic experiences that can scar young girls for life.

Her group’s fifth disc entitled “Black Widow,” their first for Atlantic after a string of indie releases, makes no concessions to Brink’s penchant for confrontational diatribes against sex predators and their ilk. Her new songs bite as hard as those written during her underground apprenticeship. The recent hit, “Sick Like Me,” along with similarly dark themed tunes “Sex Metal Barbie” and “Bloody Creature Poster Girl” on Black Widow are no less scathing than “Whore” and “Blood” from previous outings.

What’s new is that most of the songs offer a way for broken girls to rise above their situation.”The Fighter” and final track “Out Of Hell” openly suggest dealing squarely with tormentors.

The backing band lays down hard rock mutations with Goth, metalcore and thrash, and there’s always a striking riff or an amazing hook to prettify the metal gang bang. It’s your turn to be infected.

*****

Barry Manilow
"My Dream Duets"

Mellow rock architect Barry Manilow takes his own perspective on the duets concept and taps other people’s songs to sing along with other artists. Specifically, Barry partners with singers “who are no longer with us” so his dream project comes down to how best his arrangements connect the classic voices with his own.

Barry’s better off doing it with guys like Frankie Lymon on “Goody, Goody,” John Denver on “Sunshine on My Shoulder” and Louis Armstrong on “What a Wonderful World.” His make out with the ladies, Dusty Springfield, Judy Garland, Whitney Houston and Marilyn Monroe, just barely catches fire.

No seismic encounters in these duets compilation though it’s a fun listen while it lasts, especially for huge Manilow fans.