I don't know if local musicians have all started taking some kind of fertility drug, but if so, it's obviously working. In the last couple weeks, there's been a wave of Springs artists releasing new CDs, which is kind of weird at a time when compact discs are threatening to go the way of vinyl. (Then again, you can't make much money selling MP3s at gigs.)
And often as not, wherever there are album releases, there are album release parties. At least three of which just happen to be taking place Saturday.
Let's start with Burn the Maps, four talented local musicians who take their name from an album by the Frames (the Irish band that spawned the Swell Season) and wear their indie-folk/Anglo-pop hearts on their sleeves. The band will celebrate the release of its impressive debut album, Terra Incognita, at the S.P.Q.R. gallery this Saturday, May 7, with Edith Makes a Paper Chain's Sarah Hope opening.
For those who've yet to stumble upon them, the Maps are made up of singer-songwriters Mike Kimlicko, Kate Aronson and Paul Lilley, who all play guitar, and drummer John Litchenberg, who doesn't. They also have a way with mandolins as well as the occasional ukulele, which is the instrument of choice for everyone from Tune-Yards frontwoman Merrill Garbus to Pearl Jam crooner Eddie Vedder.
Come to think of it, I just picked up a nice baritone myself at Tejon Street Music, which stocks tons of the little guys, and it sounds pretty great when someone other than me is playing it. (Unless, of course, that someone other than me is in Train.)
Anyway, Terra Incognita has more than its share of great moments: "Pilgrim's Heart" showcases Aronson's banjo and harmonies that wouldn't sound out of place on a well-worn Fairport Convention album, while "10,000 Moons" sounds kind of like a strummier parallel-universe Young Marble Giants (well, to me anyway) until it slips into that waltz-time thing midway through. Kimlicko and Lilley's originals are no less well-crafted, and the album as a whole is really engaging.
Elsewhere on Saturday, people with acoustic-instrument allergies can venture across town to Sunshine Studios, where Bridges Will Break is celebrating the release of its debut album, Only Tomorrow. The alt-rock trio formerly known as Face Towards Enemy mashes up rock and pop elements nicely on tracks like "Eleanor," "Don't Look Into the Mirror" (nice toy piano, guys), and "After You Left." Good guitar work throughout, and you might also hear some stray emo and screamo influences elsewhere in the mix, but don't tell them I said that.
Not to be outdone, Jeremy "Doc" Hodges is playing two CD release shows this Saturday at Southgate's Borders bookstore. Autumn in July showcases the singer-songwriter's fondness for playing harmonica like Bob Dylan and singing folk/country originals in a deep baritone rumbly enough to wake Johnny Cash. Which would be kinda creepy, you know, if that happened.
I'm not sure about any other local album release shows Saturday, although there's probably tons. Meanwhile, for those who know how to plan ahead (must be nice), don't forget the Haunted Windchimes CD release event at Stargazers on May 14.
Also recommended: Halden Wofford & the Hi-Beams tonight at SouthSide Johnny's; former Kanye DJ A-Trak up at Denver's Gothic this coming Monday; and Portugal. The Man (with Portland's Captain Beefheart-lovin' Unknown Mortal Orchestra) on Wednesday at the Black Sheep.