Women rock out on striking summer releases

Women rock out on striking summer releases

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Tori Amos Abnormally Attracted To Sin Universal Republic

It sounds like a certain red-headed pianist/goddess has been listening to Portishead.

Tori Amos’ fan base is so dedicated to her as an artist that she can pretty much get away with anything short of venturing into hip-hop or heavy metal. “Abnormally Attracted To Sin” does get adventurous in a few spots, but there are many moments that sound like Amos is trying to keep her core constituency happy with spare piano-driven siren songs, like “Mary Jane” and “Ophelia.”

However, it’s Amos’ exploration of trippy textures that really surprises and holds this collection of songs together. “Give,” “Starling” and the title track are awash with spacey sounds that gel perfectly with Amos’ seductive voice. Amos adapts to rock songs in fine fashion as well, with commanding organs holding down the pulsing thump of “Strong Black Vine” and synths augmenting the fuzzed-out abandon that is “Police Me.”

Some tracks seem more by-the-numbers that others. With all the surprises on the album, songs like “Welcome to England” and “500 Miles” seem bland by comparison. But those are just minor disappointments on a record that, for the most part, is a listener’s delight.

Girl in a Coma Trio B.C. Blackheart Records

Girl in a Coma definitely shows some artistic growth on its sophomore release.

Not that the band’s debut album wasn’t great, but “Trio B.C.” finds Girl in a Coma performing more assuredly and digging deeper into its varied musical influences.

The Texas-based punk band’s Southwestern roots are showing — and shine a lot brighter on this release right out of the gate with the jangling slide-guitar-drenched “BB.” That vibe carries over in spectacular fashion on songs like the atmospheric “El Monte” and the poppy “Trail.”

But Girl in a Coma isn’t about to let you forget that it’s a punk band. This record is peppered with blistering rock tracks, like “Static Mind,” “Pleasure and Pain” and “Baby Boy.” It’s on the harder-rocking tracks that the most notable upgrade in the band’s sound is undeniably apparent. Nina Diaz’s guitar-playing makes the most of the space given to her, and she really brings it home with riffs that are alternatively beautifully lush and ferocious.

With “Trio B.C.,” Girl in a Coma definitely cements its status as a force to be reckoned with.

Peaches I Feel Cream XL Records

Who the hell needs subtlety and metaphors when Peaches makes her blend of blunt, in-your-face electro fury so damn funky? Peaches isn’t showing any sign of mellowing out or backing down from her overtly sexual and gender-blurring exploits on her latest album.

If you are familiar with her previous efforts like “Fatherfucker” or “Impeach My Bush” (and really, everybody should have her now-classic anthemic single “Fuck The Pain Away” on his/her iPod), the shock value of her all-up-in-that-ass bravado has probably worn off, but Peaches is still one hell of an entertainer and ready to kick some booty.

Sonically, this album is all over the place, but manages to work so well in the process with its varying degrees of aggression and sweaty sexiness. She successfully borrows some hip-hop pop swagger (with some help from out rapper Shunda K, who really should have Peaches make beats for her more often) on “Billionaire.” Gwen Stefani should be green with envy wishing she had written a line as naughtily funky as “fuck you like a billionaire” during her solo career. The title track, the ultra-low-frequency “Take You On” and the Teutonic disco of “Lose You” all sound like the gifted techno-pop spawn of Daft Punk and Goldfrapp.

All the tracks on “I Feel Cream” are good, if not great. But Peaches is at her best when she’s making asses shake. To that end, songs like the pulsating “Serpentine” and the rocking “Show Stopper” have more than enough booty-bouncing power to make this whole collection worth the effort.

The Sounds Crossing The Rubicon New Line

Swedish electro-rock group The Sounds definitely sound like a band that has something to prove on its latest effort. The new-wave-influenced rock is solid enough that they don’t have to venture too far from the formula to get a listener hooked, especially when they rock out better than The Killers from the album opener, “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake,” right through the first half of the album.

But they do stretch their creative legs on “Rubicon,” and it makes the collection of songs that much better.

Bisexual singer Maja Ivarsson gives a particularly authoritative performance on the faux-rap, rocking swing of “Beatbox.” The spacey and eclectic title track is a frontrunner for best song on the album. Elsewhere, the group gives Coldplay a run for its alt-rock money with the whimsical-sounding “Home Is Where Your Heart Is” and the strangely alluring instrumental “Goodbye Freddy.”

The Sounds’ electronic sheen and punkish intensity could easily get lost in the crowd in less-capable hands, but this group continues to have more that enough verve to catapult it to superstar status.

Larry Nichols can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it...

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