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 has been the Post's pop music critic since 2009. He's recently written about Bjork's radical humanity, the spiritual endurance of Willie Nelson and the secret utility of rock star trash talk.
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