Roomrunner, Tree, Patty Griffin: Critic’s Notebook

Notable recordings from the world of pop music.

Roomrunner


(Courtesy of Fan Death Records)

Imagine a Nirvana whose only source of angst came from being constantly compared to Nirvana. There’s more fun than fury in this Baltimore band’s impressive debut album, “Ideal Cities,” thanks to singer-guitarist Denny Bowen, who knows how to vocalize between a snarl and a smirk and can make his guitar do the same.

Roomrunner performs at Comet Ping Pong on June 21.

Tree

Chicago’s hip-hop ecosystem feels vast and angry right now. Amid the teen menace of Chief Keef and the bizarre, grown-up petulance of Kanye West – who debuted some prickly tunes on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend – you’ll find “Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out,” an ornery new mixtape from Chi rapper-producer Tree. He’s got a big, ugly voice – like Redman after an elbow to the throat – and a grab bag of beautiful beats that blend vintage soul samples and digital high-hats that tick-tick-tick
like time bombs.

Patty Griffin

The most powerful moments on the folk singer’s seventh album, “American Kid,” mourn the death of her father, but nothing on this 12-song album aches like Griffin’s cover of Lefty Frizzell’s “Mom and Dad’s Waltz.” She transforms an ode of filial piety into a pointed enunciation of grief.

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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