Music » Sound Advice

Esme Patterson, The Strypes, Cloud Nothings

Sound Advice

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Esmé Patterson

Woman to Woman

Greater Than Collective

File next to: Paper Bird, Cary Ann Hearst

Esmé Patterson tends to shift identities from project to project. As one of three frontwomen in Denver folk-pop outfit Paper Bird, she wraps her persona in '20s flapper fashion and a vintage vocal approach. As a solo artist, meanwhile, she adopts a more individualist style, especially on her criminally overlooked 2012 debut, All Princes, I. Now, Patterson is back with Woman to Woman, seven songs written from the perspective of different songwriters' fictional characters, from Dolly Parton's "Jolene" to Elvis Costello's "Alison." The best tracks here — including her answer to Brian Wilson's "Caroline, No" in "The Glow" — fire on all cylinders. And even with seven surrogate voices crammed into its 20-minute running time, Patterson's experiment in multiple personalities continues to develop the vocal and lyrical strength of an artist who's gradually discovering her own voice. — Loring Wirbel

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The Strypes

Snapshot

Virgin/EMI

File next to: Jack White, Rockpile

Meet the world's greatest rock 'n' roll band that's still under the age of 20. The Strypes are four teens from Ireland whose debut comes across as an homage to British bands like the Yardbirds, Doctor Feelgood and early Rolling Stones. Snapshot captures them shaking and swaggering through originals like "Blue Collar Jane" and tearing up classic blues like Bo Diddley's "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover." With clever writing and Jeff Beck-style guitar, the Strypes send launch garage-rock sound into the stratosphere. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Cloud Nothings

Here and Nowhere Else

Carpark Records

File next to: Japandroids, Speedy Ortiz

Claims over three years that Cloud Nothings represented the future of punk seemed overblown until the release of the 2012 quasi-bootleg Live at Grog Shop. Even if the band relied too heavily on lead singer and guitarist Dylan Baldi, Cloud Nothings clearly sizzled in a live setting. The new album sharpens its feedback-driven riffs to provide a salute to punk's 1979 power-pop era, with a sound combining late-period Buzzcocks with early Dead Kennedys. But is that enough for the 21st century? Songs like "Pattern Walks" are nothing short of amazing, but an eight-track album clocking in at 31 minutes makes it hard to claim greatness. Here and Nowhere Else may make many 2014 Top 10 lists, but with bands like Perfect Pussy cornering screaming spazz, even as Fucked Up conjures more complex tunes, Baldi will be hard pressed to keep Cloud Nothings fresh. — Loring Wirbel

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