Court Yard Hounds, Phil Anselmo, Young Moe: Critic’s Notebook

Notable recordings from the world of pop music.

Court Yard Hounds. (Photo by James Minchin)

Court Yard Hounds. (Photo by James Minchin)

Court Yard Hounds

The Dixie Chicks are back – only in separate pieces.

After surviving years under siege, then fading away, chief Chick Natalie Maines released her first solo album, “Mother,” this spring. Unfortunately, her songs sounded stiff and tentative, not unlike the tunes her former bandmates – sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison – dropped on their 2010 debut as Court Yard Hounds.

But this week, the post-Chicks trajectory bends in more promising directions with the release of the Hounds’ second album, “Amelita.” The sisters sound fired up and light on their feet, especially on “Sunshine,” where they harmonize through clenched smiles. “You always find a way to bring me down when I feel fine,” they sing. “We call you sunshine.”

Pinks Quieter

Go-go has never been embraced by the global masses, but over the course of 30 years, Washington’s proudly local style of funk music has managed to trickle out of Chocolate City in mysterious ways.

Sometimes those ways are extra mysterious – like last year, when Oregon musician Charlie Salas-Humara released an enchanting album under the name Pinks Quieter, blending popping go-go samples with his own drippy, psychedelic textures. Now, the album been issued in physical form by Metal Postcard, a record label in the Czech Republic. What a trip.

Phil Anselmo and the Illegals

While so much heavy metal sounds like an explicit choice between speed and endurance, Phil Anselmo remains eager to rip himself apart in pursuit of both. “Walk Through Exits Only,” the former Pantera frontman’s first proper solo album, is crammed with frantic, crushing songs that occasionally sprint past the five-minute mark.

And at 45 years old, Anselmo has remarkable stamina, roaring in a voice so violent, it’s a miracle he has any voice left at all. On the album’s title track, he sounds as if he’s trying to dislodge explosives from his throat. “A comeback doesn’t come gently,” he snarls, spouting strange, furious wisdom. “It’s as ugly as ugly is.”

Young Moe

Over the weekend, rumors spread that Washington rapper Fat Trel had allegedly inked a deal with Maybach Music Group, an esteemed label piloted by Rick Ross, the current mentor to Trel’s former mentor Wale. This was confusing, good news – an amusing reminder that today’s rap game has become a byzantine hierarchy of apprenticeships. (Are there actual org charts? Can we ask whoever found the PRISM slides to look into that?)

Of course, it’s only natural that Trel has a few understudies in his orbit, and Alexandria rapper Young Moe has proven himself to be one of the most promising. On his new mixtape, “Humble Hustle 2,” the 19-year-old’s delivery is leaner and more relaxed than on previous outings, but he still sounds poised to rise through the ranks.

Warning: this song contains explicit lyrics.

Deep Forest

Is Deep Forest ahead of its time? Behind the times? Right on time? Out of time?

The French group’s congenial new album, “Deep Africa,” has plenty in common with today’s electronic-pop vanguard, sampling indigenous music from foreign continents and smearing it together with bubbly club beats and airy, new age purrs.

Back in ’90s, those sounds felt both silly and stunning – the band’s 1992 breakout debut album was filled with the kind of gorgeous global fluff you might hear at an upscale vegetarian restaurant.

But Deep Forest has remained committed to that aesthetic for more than 20 years, like pioneers lost in the world, a latent influence that’s never really been claimed.

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