Friday, March 10, 2006

Tres Chicas and before

Tres Chicas: "Drop Me Down"
"Shade Trees In Bloom"
(from Bloom, Red, and the Ordinary Girl, 2006. Buy or download.)
Hazeldine: "Turn the Lights Down Low" Apparently that's not Hazeldine!
(from Down to the Promised Land: 5 Years of Bloodshot Records, 2000. Buy or download. Buy other stuff here.)
Glory Fountain: "Faith"
(from Blame Love, 1997. Buy stuff here.)

One of the first groups I profiled (back here) was Tres Chicas, whose 2004 release, Sweetwater, is a gorgeous folk/rock/country hybrid that showcases three formidable vocal talents. This week, their follow-up, Bloom, Red, and the Ordinary Girl was released, and it moves the group in a slightly different direction. Decamping to London to record and write, and leaving Triangle uber-producer Chris Stamey behind, Caitlin Cary, Lynn Blakey, and Tonya Lamm have worked more jazz and soul into the mix. The result perhaps bears some vague resemblance to Cat Power's recent The Greatest (or, to be honest, Nora Jones -- listen to the electric piano and brushed drums on some of these songs!). Here's a great article describing the making of the album.

Most folks are saying that this is a better record than Sweetwater, and it's certainly it's equal in terms of the vocal performances. It's probably more cohesive as an album, which makes sense since it was written and recorded in a pretty short span of time. Personally, I'm still digesting the changes to the sound, and my first impression is that I miss some of the rootsier touches -- but it's still a very satisfying and beautiful record. There are certainly songs that still maintain the folky style, like the opening track, "Drop Me Down." I've selected "Shade Trees in Bloom" to reflect the more jazzy side of this album -- the harmonies and trading vocals on the chorus are something else.

All tres of the chicas have pretty impressive resumes, and I've included a couple of songs to give you a taste of where they're coming from. I figure most folks with any interest in this kind of music have already heard Caitlin Cary's old band, Whiskeytown, so nothing from them. (Although there are some unreleased tracks available at An Aquarium Drunkard.) Lynn Blakey's Glory Fountain was a solid alt-country band, and "Faith" rocks a lot harder than Tres Chicas ever have. (Which is to say, moderately.) Tonya Lamm's Hazeldine was a lot folkier. "Turn the Lights Down Low" is a back porch raveup from a great Bloodshot Records compilation.

Tres Chicas are playing at SXSW on March 16, but the have a CD release show tonight at The Pour House in Raleigh.


At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark, thanks again for the inside dope on The Oak Room in your previous post. Hope I can get to Raleigh to hear the ladies - I'm in Durham also and really wish we had a better scene in our growing downtown. Got Caitlin and Thad's 'Begonias' after hearing 'Two Different Things' on Back Porch Music and they blew me away. We've got some incredible talent right here in our backyard. Thanks!

At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i didn't make it to the pour house last night, but their interview on wunc's state of things was great. they did 'drop me down' live.

At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the song attributed to HAZELDINE is NOT!!!! to hear them, check out there 2 fine NOT FOLK records on maybe you'd like to correct the links....

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Mark said...

OK, anonymous, corrected. Thanks for the info, though the attitude could be toned down a bit.

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