Initial Reactions (2012): Kathleen Edwards, Cloud Nothings, First Aid Kit

Initial Reactions are just that: my reactions to records after only a few listens (usually 2 or 3). I try to be fair, but if a record doesn’t make much of an impression on me at that point, someone’s going to need to tell me to pay closer attention if they think it deserves better. (see the sidebar for rating descriptions)

Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur – (B): Edwards’ first two albums are Americana masterpieces. Since then, she’s struggled a bit to make her next giant leap. While Voyageur has its moments, it all seems a bit tepid, especially given Edwards biggest past triumphs (see, for example, "In State"). Only "Mint" approaches that flood mark. In the end, this is a set of good tunes, it’s just that we’ve just come to expect more than that.  ("Mint")

Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory – (A-): You gotta admire the aim. Cloud Nothings went from bedroom pop-punk to devastation post-punk in about a year’s time. Is Attack on Memory great? I’m not sure, but it’s a big fat maybe. The first several cuts are grabbers -  "No Future/No Past" nails a sound I haven’t heard since about the mid-90’s. AoM satisfies, but is it devoid of filler? We’ll see where this shakes out a year from now. ("No Future/No Past", "Fall In")

First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar – (A-): Aims to put stars in your eyes. Canyon-carving vocals, fiery harmonies, and great tunes abound. These ladies sing with conviction something like religion.  My only complaint is that The Lion’s Roar could have boasted a little more variety. You know, more like "Blue", which hits upon a playful pop sensibility that’s otherwise absent. All in all, promising. ("The Lion’s Roar", "Emmylou", "Blue")

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