"Every Kind of Light"
"New Comes and Goes"
THE DEATHRAY DAVIES
"The Kick and the Snare"
"There's only so many chords /That haven't been played yet," concede the Posies in "All in a Day's Work," a song from the Seattle quartet's first studio album since 1998. It's an admission that's equally pertinent to the two bands that will support the Posies at their Black Cat gig, Oranger and the Deathray Davies. All three have made new power-pop albums that are better than workmanlike but stop short of any breakthroughs.
The Posies started as the songwriting team of Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer, with rhythm players rotating in and out of the group. After years of solo and duo releases from the band's two founding members, the Posies are more of a group than ever. Their new "Every Kind of Light" even credits new members Matt Harris and Darius Minwalla as co-composers on all the songs, which range from the expected swoony pop ("Conversations") to a not-quite-convincing swipe at the blues ("Could He Treat You Better?"). The influence of sometime musical collaborator Alex Chilton is strong, on both the midtempo "Love Comes" and the playfully swaggering "I Finally Found a Jungle I Like!" There may be only so many variations on the Posies' trademark heavy-pop sound, but this album proves that they're not played out yet.
Harris also plays bass and guitar with Oranger, a San Francisco neo-garage-rock quintet that modulates direct tunes with sideways noise.
Squawky synth and guitar asides never divert the beat, which shuffles along as if the Count Five (or perhaps Bachman-Turner Overdrive) were the latest thing. The titles on the band's "New Comes and Goes" -- including "Crooked in the Weird of the Catacombs" and "Garden Party for the Murder Pride" -- are more baroque than the songs themselves. There are no new chords here, certainly, but Oranger has a vigor that makes its classic thump sound reasonably fresh.
On previous albums, the Deathray Davies have basically been an alias for Texas singer-songwriter John Dufilho. With "The Kick and the Snare," however, Dufilho has decided to emulate Stringfellow and Auer and accept his backing musicians as full-time bandmates. The result is a warmer, livelier sound, albeit one that retains echoes of the Davies' previous minor-key drones -- notably in the outro to the aptly titled "In Circles." If not all the songs are as bright as the horn-driven opener, "The Fall Fashions," most of them are sharp, tuneful and immediate. Stuffed with threats and deaths, Dufilho's lyrics are as ominous as ever. But when he announces that "I'll Sing a Sweeter Song Tomorrow," it sounds as if tomorrow has come today.
-- Mark Jenkins
Appearing Monday at the Black Cat.