CD REVIEWS: The South Carolina Broadcasters, Yates Dew, The Ting Tings

The South Carolina Broadcasters

Can You Hear Me Now/Flaming Heart

After attending last weekend’s successful first edition of the Charleston Bluegrass Festival, I have to say that the number of great Americana and bluegrass groups around the region is truly impressive.

One of the more memorable acts that played Friday night, The South Carolina Broadcasters, just released a new CD, “Can You Hear Me Now,” which does a great job of capturing the old-timey sound of the act’s live show. The trio has a sound that would have been right at home in the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

The music on “Can You Hear Me Now” features plenty of fiddle, banjo and guitar goodness, but it is the group’s vocals that really make the listener sit up and take notice.

The harmonizing by Ivy Sheppard and Grace Kennedy on tracks such as “Can’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore” and “Fall on My Knees” is exquisitely antique, and sounds like it should be playing from an old 78 rpm phonograph record instead of a CD. Add the vocals of David Sheppard on songs such as “Home to Stay” and the title track, and it is easy to hear why this trio has won awards for its music.

If good old-fashioned down-home music is what you seek, The South Carolina Broadcasters deliver a bushel full.

Key Tracks: “Take Away This Lonesome Day,” “Home to Stay,” “When God Dips His Love in My Heart”

Yates Dew Exhale Through Your Feet/Independent

It’s always great when an artist can follow his or her own muse and make music that comes from the heart. The results are almost always more interesting and listenable than someone who tries to capitalize on whatever happens to be the current sound out there.

Local singer-songwriter Yates Dew definitely falls into the category of muse follower. His 2006 CD, “The Day. The Dog. The Girl.,” was a pleasant enough mellow rock effort, but Dew really spreads his creative wings on his latest album. “Exhale Through Your Feet” is positive without being preachy, mellow without being wimpy and beautiful without being sappy.

Dew’s voice has strengthened since his last CD, as has his songwriting. On the leadoff track, “Put It Off,” Dew sings, “I never liked the Rolling Stones.” From just about anyone else that line would seem contrived, but here it really works. Other tracks, such as the country-tinged “Hartwell” and the ultra-catchy “Shoes,” are tailor-made for radio airplay.

Dew plays most of the instruments on the album, but also enlists the help of Mimi Bell and Shannon Whitworth on two tracks apiece.

If Dew used the six years between albums to pull the perfect songs from the ether, then mission accomplished. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another half-decade and change before we hear the next step in his musical journey.

Key Tracks: “I Wanted It Too,” “Shoes,” “Run From These Worries”

The Ting Tings Sounds From Nowheresville/Columbia

I love it when looks can be deceiving in music. It happens far less often than one would expect.

In these days of post-MTV social networking, a band’s look is as important as its sound, sometimes even more important. That’s why I was so blown away by “We Started Nothing,” the 2008 release by The Ting Tings.

Looking at a picture of Katie White and Jules de Martino, the duo who make up The Ting Tings, one might think they were some sort of indie White Stripes wannabes. Happily, that wasn’t the case, and with songs such as “That’s Not My Name” that capitalized on an ’80s retro sound, The Ting Tings sounded like anything but what they looked like.

On the duo’s follow-up effort, “Sounds From Nowheresville,” the tracks are no less catchy, but the tunes are a bit rougher around the edges.

“Silence,” the leadoff song, sounds a bit like The Eurythmics meets The Thompson Twins, while “Hang It Up” sounds like Debbie Harry singing the hit, “Rapture,” while backed by Jane’s Addiction. “Give It Back” is a guitar-driven powerhouse, while “Guggenheim” features what might be the most unusually catchy chorus of the year (“This time I’m gonna get it right, I’m gonna paint my face like the Guggenheim”).

While “Sounds From Nowheresville” is far from perfect, it is a worthy followup to The Ting Tings’ awesome debut. All of the overhyped noise rock bands out there might do well to take a lesson from The Ting Tings, but then again, since those acts rely on looks as much as supposed talent, doing so probably would be an exercise in futility.

Key Tracks: “Hit Me Down Sonny,” “Hang It Up,” “Guggenheim”

By Devin Grant