D'Haene's new disc is spring-loaded with hard-locked rhythms, chunky guitar riffing, and metalized melodies sung with a bluesy, soulful inflection. If, vocally, D'Haene tends to be a touch more convincing on more easy-going fare ("Took Me So Long"), that's because of the soulful quality that defines his vocal style.
One of the CD's best points is the way many of the songs surprise you with unexpected bridges and codas, as in "Wouldn't You Like To Know," or with varied flavors like the Latin opening of "Brand New Threads!" The impeccable musicianship and harmony vocals are also a pleasure throughout. The soul influence becomes explicit with the nodding triplets and organ bed of "I'll Be Your Man," though D'Haene's characteristic guitar buzz remains, maintaining consistency with the disk's overall feel. The same thing happens in the jazzy underpinning of "Playin' It Cool," complete with muted trumpet.
Bookended by the hard-rocking "Another Like You" and "My Woman," this set of solid songs and ace playing is worthy listen.
June Moris, White Spot
June Moris' seven-song disc is a hypnotic set; her quavery voice sounds as if it's bubbling up from an underground stream, accompanied by the hum of insects and distant bells ringing. The atmosphere ranges from a strained, thinly angry pounding, slightly reminiscent of PJ Harvey, to a techno coolness, to a thick Brian Eno drone, but Moris' fluty voice carries through all.
It's an effective, even thrilling tactic through the first five songs. On the sixth track, "The Memory," Moris tries for melodramatic balladry, leaving what seems her natural, postmodern sonic habitat, and it doesn't work as well.
At the end one is left, not with melodies to hang a memory on - Moris isn't about that - but with a pleasingly disturbing sense of disquiet. Shivery mission accomplished.