Notable recordings from the world of pop music.
Vince Gill and Paul Franklin
Is Vince Gill the hardest-working man in Nashville or just the guy with the highest slugging percentage? His Western swing band the Time Jumpers dropped a boot-tappy album last fall, Gill produced Ashley Monroe’s stellar new disc “Like a Rose,” and now here comes “Bakersfield,” a spirited collaboration with steel guitarist Paul Franklin.
Back in the 1950s, a golden dialect of country music came gushing out of that California oil town, and six decades later, Gill and Franklin are proving they know how to speak it. Zeroing in on songs made famous by Bakersfield icons Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, their covers boast great musculature and detail, sounding as big as the original recordings felt.
This Washington-based duo has been leaking out sweet, hazy rock singles for about a year, but its newest, “Sinking Stone,” signals a breakthrough. Instead of cowering in the reverb like so many other Cocteau Twins-inspired bands, guitarist Clifford John Usher plays liquid licks while singer Lindsay Pitts harmonizes with a choir of clones: “Could you ever love me again?/I need to know our love’s not a sinking stone.” It’s a blurry, blissful upside-downer from a band clearly on its way up.
Trap music – the still-mutating form of dance music that borrows from hip-hop and brutalizes the ears – can feel both exhilarating and claustrophobic. Thankfully, young California trap producer R.L. Grime knows the importance of breathing room.
The climactic highlights of his five-song “High Beams” EP come Godzilla-stomping into the sonic foreground after moments of relative sonic restraint. And with the entire EP clocking in at about 17 minutes, he knows the importance of brevity, too.