Critic’s Notebook: 3rd and Union, Moon B

Notable recordings from the world of pop music.

3rd & Union

With Fleetwood Mac reuniting for another tour across the American landscape/psyche this spring, our ears are freshly pricked for co-ed duets fraught with sexual tension.

Cue 3rd and Union, a duo featuring Nashville songwriter Chase Coy and chanteuse Palmer Lee. But instead of sounding star-crossed or spurred, the twosome’s country ballads take on a far more interesting dimension. Their love songs feel refreshingly platonic.

Released late last year – and unfortunately suffering glacial momentum ever since – the duo’s sterling self-titled debut album routinely eclipses the swollen-hearted sweetness of Lady Antebellum, only with choruses that refuse to curdle. And while they share the microphone well, Coy’s reedy voice sounds best harmonizing beneath Lee’s always tasteful ruminations. “Too many months, now, my heart’s been fighting this war,” they sing on the album closer “No More.” “I don’t wanna love you no more.”

Like pals pulling one another out of parallel heartbreaks, their harmonies generate an unexpected kind of warmth. If it ends up earning them the attention they deserve, they might redefine “friends with benefits” in the process.

Moon B

Moon B is the nom du funk of Wes Gray, a homebody producer who spends his hours re-creating a style of outsider dance music you might associate with public access television circa 1985.

His latest self-titled EP arrived recently on Peoples Potential Unlimited, a D.C.-based record label known for exhuming chunks of forgotten, hyper-obscure ’80s funk.

Gray’s hazy instrumental tracks fit right in, swaddling the bump and grind of vintage synthesizers and drum machines with atmospheric tape hiss and analog warble. You’d never guess this stuff was made in this century, but you’ll know how to dance to it.

Chris Richards became the Post's pop music critic in 2009. He has covered D.I.Y. house shows, White House concerts, go-go and Gaga.
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Ron Charles | February 25, 2013