Fran King-My Sweet Elixir. This Irish singer-songwriter caught my attention with 2005's Beautification, a Neil Finn/David Mead-type disc. He's back with My Sweet Elixir, and it's another winner. If Finn and Mead were the touchstones for the debut, this time around it's more Emmitt Rhodes/acoustic McCartney. "No Remorse (I Feel Every Word)" opens things nicely, a midtempo number with a killer chorus courtesy of King's falsetto, and the gentle, lovely ballad "Upstream" is another standout. As is "All About Me", a vaguely-jazzy, vaguely-60s styled number, and while "I've Got a Feeling" isn't a McCartney cover, it's a folky number that I'm sure Sir Paul would enjoy. Popcraft at its finest.
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The Bulletproof Vests-Attack! Mention Memphis and Ardent Studios, and Big Star comes to mind. Well, here's a Memphis band that enlisted Adam Hill, an Ardent Studios engineer, to mix and produce their debut, and darned if these guys don't have a little Chilton in them. They manage to mix power pop, rock and R&B in an intoxicating mix, and grab you from the get-go with "Magic Wand", 3:16 of rollicking goodness that brings to mind the classics as well as current bands like The Whigs. "Down in Yer Pocket" could be The Black Keys mixed with Booker T & The MGs, and "Darlin' Wait" is an awesome rave-up. Elsewhere "Picture Show" sounds like a lost Nugget, "Don't Cry" is a dusty barroom ballad, and "B&E" rocks with abandon. Although you don't hear the "Memphis sound" much any more from new bands, these guys do it proud.
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