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FURTHERMORE It’s Fun In the Dark

Free of their oddball marriage to Christian punk/emo indie Tooth & Nail Records, differently spiritual SLC trip-hop outfit Furthermore continue a combination that works: Slick, jazzy beat-pop with thinking-man’s rhymes and airy female vox. It’s positive hip-hop that affects, but isn’t affected—which keeps you listening when Fisch rejects suicide without after-school-special cheese (“Get Well Soon”) and expresses devotion in a delightfully twisted, but surprisingly non-codependent way (“We’ll run in front of trains/ We’ll pick each other’s brains/ Off the windshield”) in the title track. (Further-More.com)


Songstress Gina French’s second album in seven—count ’em, seven—years features a full backing band, a palpable rock edge and sleek production by Tom Cram (ex of Honest Engine) but still comes across as charming as her solo acoustic debut, Sacred Ground. French’s voice remains a bewitchingly expressive asset and, in the hands of her band, the candid, well-smithed songs simply leap to life. Rapture? Yer darn tootin.’ (GinaFrench.net)

SPANKY VAN DYKE Sketches of Grace

Singer-songwriter Spanky Van Dyke (Real name? Sure, let’s go with it) works in an indie-pop context a la Matt Pond PA and M Ward. His songs can be, like the former’s, baroque. But like Ward, Van Dyke can reduce to a few lines and sounds, and this is where he’s most effective (see “Summer Nights”). But occasionally abundance and economy team (see the nap-to-fit ballad “A Declaration”) and really shine. (SpankyVanDyke.com)

JUPASSA Attack of the Red Dinosaurs

Deliccato member Camden Chamberlain’s Jupassa is a one-man hodgepodge of breakbeats, esoteric electronica, and even a little prog-rock (Porcupine Tree, not Dream Theater) that’s at once clever and certifiably kooky. That’s both a problem and a brownie point: after a few listens, not knowing the intent or mental makeup of the guy behind the mess keeps you blissfully off-balance, even makes you want to see these red dinosaurs for yourself. (KiteFishingFamily.com)

CRENSHAW Upside Down

Crenshaw’s unabashedly poppy “alterna-soul” is the blend that Maroon 5 and their ilk wish they could pull off: Blue-eyed soul, fun ’70s AM-radio pop, uptown singer-songwriterly (think Marc Cohn) sensibilities and musical sophistication that, if you can fathom this, could actually bridge the Harry Connick Jr. and JamBase.com crowds (dig the NOLA soul of “Mystery,” and the jammy ride-out). Well, that’s a dubious pow-wow, but good on ’em, anyway. (CrenshawtheBand.com)

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