New releases from Savages, Brooke Waggoner and Tindersticks 


click to enlarge The Waiting Room
  • The Waiting Room


The Waiting Room

City Slang

File next to: Arab Strap, Nick Cave, Lambchop

As Tindersticks approach their 25th anniversary, we can still rely on the morose baritone of founder Stuart Staples to complement the delicate sadness of the group's trademark chamber-pop sound. On The Waiting Room, they step away from the fretful guitars and violins of early songs like "Drunk Tank." Instead we get percussion, horns and touches of electronic vocals. But don't worry: There's still plenty of ethereal atmospherics to go around, as well as surreal packaging and accompanying short films that fairly moan "Art Project." Staples also connects on dreamy tunes like the title track and "Hey Lucinda," while the spoken-word "How He Entered" conveys the perpetual sadness of an English-accented Leonard Cohen. Tindersticks members were apparently middle-aged from the moment of birth, but their jazz-club heartbreak still carries a melancholy appeal. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge Matador
  • Matador


Adore Life


File next to: Liars, The Slits, Shopping

The British women's art-punk band Savages initially followed a predictable trajectory. Their strident debut album, which suggested a chaotically updated Siouxsie and the Banshees, was followed up by an experimental collaboration with Bo Ningen, which served to enhance the band's already edgy credentials. Now, Savages have returned with Adore Life, which combined a positivist message about love and nature with a sound that manages to rock harder than their first album. The band has arrived at a bold and accessible sound, particularly on Adore Life's first five songs. But as the album goes on, Savages' energy begins to flag. Even so, singer-lyricist Jehnny Beth deserves credit for moving Savages beyond feminist sloganeering to a less one-dimensional identity with deeper roots. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge Brooke Waggoner
  • Brooke Waggoner

Brooke Waggoner


Swoon Moon Music

File next to: Suzanne Vega, Zero 7, Penelope Houston

Brooke Waggoner may be an associate of Jack White, but this expressionistic album's tinkling keyboard and pizzicato strings feel more like downtempo heroes Zero 7 than The White Stripes. On her fourth full-length, the Nashville (by way of New Orleans) singer-songwriter displays impressive use of texture — musical light and shade — to produce a warm and inviting, yet decidedly insular, soundscape. While earlier releases have been categorized as modern folk, on Sweven she rocks (check out the sultry, snaky vibe of the too-brief "Widow Maker"). The album synthesizes many musical styles into a unified whole. And Waggoner isn't afraid to push disparate sonics up against one another: The chamber-room piano figures of "Egg Shells" are preceded by vocal gibberish that suggests Twin Peaks' dancing midget. Every track on Sweven is a fully formed and unique work. — Bill Kopp


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