She & Him, "Volume One" ★★★
The actor convinced that he or she is a singer at heart - music, don't you know, was the thespian's first love - is such an annoying cliche that Zoey Deschanel has considerable ill will to overcome in getting She & Him taken seriously. It helps a great deal, however, that the Him paired with Deschanel is Matt Ward, the guitarist, songwriter and producer whose rootsy, pre-rock proclivities mesh nicely with her country- and cabaret-flavored songs. "Volume One," however, is mainly Deschanel's show, and though she may be most musically well known for singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in the shower in "Elf," she steps out confidently. She's a no-nonsense vocalist who writes endearingly unpretentious pop love songs, makes kazoo sounds with her mouth on "This Is Not a Test" and does quite nicely with a luxuriously lazy Hawaiian guitar version of the Beatles "I Should Have Known Better."
Foals, "Antidotes" ★★★
Just when you think the world doesn't need one more dance-punk band - let alone a heavily hyped British one - along comes Foals with an exuberant, complicated debut. The Oxford five-piece is constantly moving, all while Yannis Philippakis yelps to catch up. Recorded in Brooklyn with TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, "Antidotes" distorts sounds so that we're not sure what's what; Philippakis brags in the press kit that the guitars are "meant to sound like insects." If "The French Open" gets things started with a yawn, the following "Cassius" is a pulse-quickening anthem that's more typical of Foals. And though every little detail may not translate when Foals performs live, the band's kinetic tangles will more than make up for it.
Juneau Empire ©2013. All Rights Reserved.