Ken Maiuri’s Tuned In
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I bought Ryan Power’s last album from Feeding Tube, the Northampton record store known for its adventurous and eclectic stock, and the guy behind the counter who’d heard the album looked at it, looked at me and said, “This is a weird one.”
I laughed a little, out of surprise: Of all the things I could be buying in here, from experimental noise records to a limited edition LP by “Edith Bunker’s Demonized Vomit Insurance,” this tuneful one-man-band from Burlington, Vt., made a weird album?
And then I got home, put it on and tried to understand the enigma in my speakers.
Ryan Power has a brand-new album out now called “Identity Picks” (on the NNA Tapes label) and it’s just as magnetically flummoxing. The eight tracks contain elements you recognize — groovy bass, drum machines and keyboards with an e_SSRq80s sheen, jazzy chords, harmonies — but the compositions follow their own logic.
Press material says Power is trying to write “song-based music” with “perfectly-placed shifting harmonic puzzles” and that’s a pretty unbeatable description of his distinct take on “the pop song.”
The slowly unfolding eight-minute piece “New Attitude” is soulful yet icy, sharing DNA with late-e_SSRq70s Steely Dan work and new-wave R&B ballads, while “The Prize” shows off Power’s really excellent voice over a bubbly synth-soul backing track that’s part Todd Rundgren, part Human League. Everything is so smooth and slippery that it’s hard to grasp the hooks at first, but they reveal themselves.
See Ryan Power headline a bill that also features Great Valley (a Brattleboro, Vt., band that shares personnel with Happy Jawbone Family Band and Blanche Blanche Blanche) and locals Rabbit Rabbit at the Sierra Grille in Northampton Thursday at 10 p.m.
Leon Russell has written some classic songs — and not just the oft-covered “A Song For You” (which has been recorded by more than 100 acts). There’s the slinky “Tightrope,” gospel-rocking “Delta Lady” and many others, which the singer/songwriter/pianist may just play (along with choice covers from the rock, soul and blues song books) at the Iron Horse in Northampton Friday at 7 p.m. Emily Elbert opens.
Terry Jenoure performs her theater piece “My Bronx” — featuring her original music and poetry, plus dancing from Maria Mitchell and drumming from Bob Weiner — at the Arts Block in Greenfield tonight, Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
Problem with Dragons, Hotblack and Avedis get loud at Between the Uprights in Turners Falls tonight at 9.
Connecticut-based acts The Sawtelles, Grimm Generation and Lys Guillorn band together for a Constitution State triple bill at the Luthiers Co-Op in Easthampton Saturday at 7 p.m.
Rick Murnane has a new EP on the way, “Four Stories.” The physical disc will be ready soon and its downloadable digital version even sooner (check Murnane’s Bandcamp page for updates). He’ll appear live, accompanied by Fred Goodhue on bass and Nick Dines on drums, at Mocha Maya’s in Shelburne Falls Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Siobahn Hotaling will open.
The Chicopee Family Moose Project (Eric Gaffney, Les LaBarge and Jeff Lloyd) share the bill with two acts from Oregon, Catherine Feeny and Sama Dams, for an early show at The Elevens in Northampton Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
Mike & Ruthy perform at one of their longtime haunts, the cozy, inviting and in-the-middle-of-absolute-nowhere Dream Away Lodge in Becket Sunday at 8 p.m.
Fancy Trash continues its residency at Mocha Maya’s Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Henning Ohlenbusch will open.