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A Place at the Table
The Civil Wars and T Bone Burnett
Sensibility Music; $12.95
Think of the soundtrack for the documentary “A Place at the Table” as something of an appetizer.
Yes, there’s new music from The Civil Wars in collaboration with producer T Bone Burnett. But there’s not a lot — just a few original songs. The rest are instrumental swatches, which are beautifully done — and just a little bit heartbreaking — but leave you wanting something more satisfying.
That more robust Civil Wars album — the proper follow up to their surprise breakthrough “Barton Hollow” — could be on the way after difficulties late last year within the duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White. They attended the Grammy Awards together, where they shared a win with Burnett and Taylor Swift on their “The Hunger Games” collaboration “Safe & Sound.”
The highlight here is the closer “Finding North,” which captures the best of Williams and Whites’ soaring vocals and deep emotional resonance they’ve become known for.
Atoms for Peace
XL Recordings; $9.99
Since it was first used to describe the rock band Cream in the 1960s, the term supergroup hasn’t always lived up to its moniker. The idea of assembling players from different bands isn’t always grand, and rarely does it produce an exponential group effort.
Cream, Audioslave and the Travelling Wilburys are a few that triumphed through the sum of its parts. But for every success story, there have been numerous all-star lineups that were too predictable and somewhat boring. One of them is even named after a continent.
But Asia aside, merging players in a band is truly a tricky business.
So it makes you wonder why Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke teamed up with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea and others in Atoms for Peace.
The nine-song “Amok” has an experimental groove, not much different from what you would expect from a Radiohead album, albeit one with a tad more funk thanks to Flea’s sometimes adventurous bass lines. But when you throw in Yorke’s distinct vocal style and have longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich in the band, what did you expect it to sound like?
Rounding out the quintet is Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco and drummer Joey Waronker, who has played with Beck and R.E.M.
While the soundscape comes as no surprise, it’s the chemistry among these guys that makes it work. They complement Yorke’s vocals so well that you might mistake them for a Radiohead cover band. Who cares? With this ensemble, you lose yourself in the record rather quickly.
Above all, it’s an album experience. The songs mesh together nicely, making a standout track less evident. For example, the percussive layering in “Judge, Jury and Executioner” flows pleasantly into the staccato keyboard sounds on the title track. And that perfectly complements “Default,” the band’s first single.
Universal Republic Records; $11.99
Get ready to dance. A lot.
“Tetra,” the debut album from French foursome C2C, is a multi-genre, beat-driven adventure that feels good throughout all 14 tracks.
C2C is a turntable group made up of 20syl, DJ Greem, DJ Pfel and DJ Atom. They’ve crafted songs that feel soulful (“Happy”), energetic (“Delta,” “The Beat”) and eerie (“Give Up the Ghost”). “Because of You” is Gorillaz-esque and “Genius” is oh-so-fun, as is “Who Are You,” which samples The New Birth’s “You Don’t Have to Be Alone.”
“Le Banquet” even weaves in a speech from Ronald Reagan — and it works.
“Tetra” is flavorful and upbeat — it’s hard not to jump around to these beats. C2C has meshed a sound that is wild, but still consistent.