The Blood Brothers
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he Blood Brothers are known for effortlessly seaming together genres of seemingly ill-fitting music. Never has this talent (a "talent," yes, because of the jaw-dropping end result) been clearer. "Camouflage" has a Tilly and the Wall chorus, singer Johnny Whitney channels folks like Perry Farrell, "Laser Life" screams high school musical, and bands like the Faint are all over the place.
That these styles come together on one disc, let alone in one song, as they nearly always do, makes the Brothers noteworthy. That all the while they also maintain a theatrical, stop-start freedom that loosens and makes digestible their otherwise heavy romps, makes them epic. Sure, maybe "punk" bands should stick to just releasing EPs (exhaustion may hit halfway through), but this band is just un-punk enough that it works. Whitney does take a break from the wailing occasionally, and the resulting disc is 50 minutes that can be taken all in one dose just fine.
-- ASHLEY GRAHAM
DOWNLOAD: "Set Fire to the Face on Fire"
Home To Oblivion: An Elliott Smith Tribute
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & B & lt;/span & est known for his Radiohead tribute True Love Waits, the classically trained Christopher O'Riley is again interpreting first-rate pop on solo piano. In choosing the works of Elliott Smith for his source material, he's messing with a sacred canon. O'Riley's liner notes get it initially right by comparing Smith to Cole Porter. Like George Gershwin and Brian Wilson, Smith foiled his arsenal of melodic turns with epic flourishes, yielding songs both technically advanced and hummable.
It is with no small pomposity that O'Riley acts as an ambassador of the formally educated in giving Smith's songs the royal treatment. O'Riley's flowery, elevated renditions emphatically over-explain the songs, taking liberties with tempo to indicate which phrases the pianist deems prettiest, adding cutesy trills and rolled chords to saccharine effect. To his credit, his decision to highlight the vague unease of "Speed Trials" is shrewd, but precious little is gained and much is lost in O'Riley's re-contextualization.
-- ANDREW MATSON
DOWNLOAD: "Independence Day"