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YACHT

Shangri-La

DFA Records

Buy if you like: Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem

"The earth, the earth, the earth is on fire," sings Claire Evans on YACHT's new album. "We don't have no daughter / Let the motherfucker burn." With Evans now fully vested in Jona Bechtolt's former solo project, the Portland, Ore. group is heading in the right direction with its danceable combination of existential and environmental critique. "We let our children multiply / 'Cos we're afraid of dying," sings Evans, her last word rising to a choked falsetto. And it works, with smartly layered vocals over electro-pop arpeggiation and fluttering Mellotron figures. Sadly, the rest of Shangri-La is less idyllic. "Utopia" opens with a faux-African guitar part best left to Vampire Weekend, while elsewhere Evans indulges in blank parody of the Human League's Phil Oakey. The forced cleverness here wears thin, especially from a band capable of more tuneful, even soulful, offerings. — Bill Forman

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David Bromberg

Use Me

Appleseed Recordings

Buy if you like: Dr. John, Widespread Panic

Though he spent half his career making and selling violins instead of records, David Bromberg has many musical admirers. He called on several for this album, asking each to write or pick a song — and produce him performing it. Great idea, especially when those friends include Levon Helm, Dr. John, John Hiatt, Vince Gill, Keb' Mo', Linda Ronstadt and Widespread Panic, whom Bromberg discovered after learning they covered "Sharon," his lusty ode to a carnival dancer. Some tunes work better than others; the successes include Dr. John's jazzy-funky "You Don't Wanna Make Me Mad," Widespread Panic's even funkier "Old Neighborhood," and Gill's bluegrass/honky-tonk hybrid "Lookout Mountain Girl." Misses? The cover of Bill Withers' "Use Me" makes a girl think, "No, thanks." — Lynne Margolis

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Kasey Chambers

Little Bird

Sugar Hill

Buy if you like: Lucinda Williams, Julie Miller

When Australian Kasey Chambers first stepped into the limelight, she seemed like a little bird — young and delightfully precious, if not precocious. She also idolized Lucinda Williams, and went on to tour with (and sometimes ended up sounding like) the Americana queen. Here, Chambers harkens to her beginnings. Her delivery still contains childlike elements, even on "Beautiful Mess," about the chaotic experience of parenting two boys with co-producer/bandmate/husband Shane Nicholson. The title cut, a mid-tempo pop song Taylor Swift should cover, is almost an anomaly among tracks like the heavy-bluegrass "Georgia Brown," and beautiful duets with Patty Griffin and Kevin Bennett. But the band rocks out on "Down Here on Earth" and goes downright punk on "Train Wreck." The good news is, it all works. — Lynne Margolis

  • YACHT, David Bromberg, Kasey Chambers

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