CD reviews

This week: > The Bootlickers & Indigo Girls > Cactus Patch > Carbon Leaf > Tanya Donelly The Bootlickers Huge (CoLinGa) Indigo Girls Become You (Epic) The Bootlickers, one of Philly’s few “out” bands, are

This week:
> The Bootlickers & Indigo Girls
> Cactus Patch
> Carbon Leaf
> Tanya Donelly

The Bootlickers
Indigo Girls
Become You

The Bootlickers, one of Philly’s few “out” bands, are totally boring Beatles wannabes. “Love Comes Back” is a well-meaning slice of power pop, and the band seems to have conviction, but Huge’s drab songs are more annoying than bubble gum on the sole of a shoe.

Emulating artists as diverse as Nick Lowe and Jewel, The Bootlickers repeatedly disappoint with their typical “local band” shortcomings: bad lyrics, old dude arrangements and a permeating air of un-cool.

Also gay, but much better, are the Indigo Girls. The Atlanta, Ga. duo’s first album in three years serves up what fans have come to expect: vivid portraits of rural love as sung by Springsteen and Paul Simon devotees. Ani DiFranco’s confidence and Melissa Etheridge’s wisdom are easy references, but Become You also features piano ballads, soft R&B and roots-country numbers with an unforced, elegant ease.

Simply stated: these Girls rock!

—Neal Ramirez

Cactus Patch
Cactus Patch
(Garden Of Sweden)

There is always something refreshing about innovation in rock ‘n’ roll. Something that, while perhaps simple in form, creates an intricate listen without forgetting that catchy hook-laden sing-a-long quality. Washington, D.C.’s rock trio Cactus Patch has obviously done their homework to create a familiar yet original sound on their new self-titled album.

With a loose air similar to that of Weezer, Cactus Patch seems to take that recognizable sound, and completely make it their own. They propel music with a straightforward approach without falling into a repetitively boring cycle of feedback buildups and standard four-chord monotony. Solid guitar lines and inspired lyrics fill every track, creating an album that can play from start to finish without tiring.

While there’s not anything earth-shattering about the music this band dishes out, when it’s this good does it really matter? Cactus Patch carries definite potential to excel in the music world. Keep your ears open … we will be hearing from this trio in the future.

—Ryan Kelley

Cactus Patch will play the Khyber with Stargazer Lily on March 1.

Carbon Leaf
Echo Echo
(Constant Ivy)

Carbon Leaf’s Echo Echo opens up with a cut called “The Boxer,” dropping bells, fingerpicked guitar, a shuffling beat and lyrics about working class struggles, making the band sound about as traditionally Irish as can be.

But what’s this in the midst of the song? Rattling guitar distortion? This Richmond, Va., quartet continually finds interesting ways to mix their roots into a rock structure during the course of their fourth full-length, often working toward exceptional ends.

A mandolin and tin whistle carry the light bass and acoustic strums of “Wandrin’ Around.” Barry Privett’s plaintive vocals come across like a Gaelic Dave Matthews on “On Any Given Day,” and “Mellow Tone” works slow hip-hop beats and handclaps over lush Fender Rhodes.

The album’s standout cut, a frantic take on the traditional “Mary Mac,” even goes so far as to recall the Celtic-punk fusion of Flogging Molly, with rip-roaring fiddle playing alongside loud riffs, a fast beat and sing-along lyrics that — like Echo Echo on the whole — make you want to stomp your feet on the ground, pump your fists in the air and order a few rounds of Guinness.

—John Vettese

Carbon Leaf will play the Trocadero with Great Big Sea on March 1.

Tanya Donelly
(4AD Records)

Tanya Donelly’s persona has always been that of a child-like happy-go-lucky who could make even the most bizarre and gruesome subject matter seem sugary sweet.

When in Throwing Muses, she was McCartney to her step-sister’s Lennon, and Belly was a great response to the grunge movement of the early-1990s. Donelly supposedly faltered on her first solo effort, with many critics accusing her of becoming grunge herself.

Five years later, she is back with a new album and slightly new sound to boot. Beautysleep is definitely geared to those who enjoy Donelly’s mellow side. The songs are lush and the lyrics picturesque, yet less complex than those of her past work.

At first listen, beautysleep may be a tad disappointing because, unlike her Belly material, the songs aren’t exactly catchy, with none going above mid-tempo. Donelly’s intention, however, was to create a work that would reflect what she enjoys, not one that would necessarily appeal to the masses.

After a few listens, Donelly’s dreamy vibe begin to grow on the listener and her new ideas about her music begin to make sense as well.

—Maureen Walsh

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