Ordinary Riches

Ordinary Riches
Composer: Company of Thieves
Conductor: Company of Thieves
Label: Wind-up Records
Release Date: 2009-02-18
Rated: NONE
Genre: Recording

The debut album from Chicago-based Company of Thieves is a showcase for singer Genevieve Schatz, although they are, as they claim, more than “a chick singer with a backing group.” The band has smoothed its sound a bit, however, featuring heavy Fiona Apple vibes more than the guitar-driven sound that had Chicagoans hyping the band last year.

But the songwriting is strong, and guitarist Marc Walloch and drummer Mike Ortiz still get a chance to shine, such as on the melted jam in “Under the Umbrella” and in some Stones-y rocking on “Oscar Wilde.” Schatz is the star of this show, with a diverse vocal style touching on jazz, blues, and Motown flavors as well as rock.

“Quiet on the Front” is a top gem, with a ’70s sparkle accented by Dylan-ish harmonica work and some of Schatz’s strongest vocals. Catch the band live in Austin on March 13 at Club Deville.

— Greg M. Schwartz

The cover of Zach Condon’s latest release — listing two album titles, crediting two pseudonyms, and referencing three geographic regions — suggests schizophrenic map jumping. This set of conjoined EPs, one a collaboration with a 19-piece brass band from Oaxaca and the other a solo synth-and-laptop composition, is surprisingly fluid, though. Zapotec opener “El Zocalo” begins a marching outburst mid-note before quickly fading like a tape-recorded parade. After that half minute, Condon stepped in front of the mic for “La Llorona,” but he never really appears to be conducting. The drag-ass-polka pace is occasionally quickened by brassy blurts and plucked guitar, but the word that most often comes to mind is “meandering.” Fans shouldn’t be surprised.

More interesting is Holland, which finds the typically rustic Condon experimenting with blippy keyboard loops. Despite his lovelorn warble, “My Night With the Prostitute From Marseille” pounces on an ’80s groove with the glee of an Amish kid on Rumspringa, and closing instrumental “No Dice” proves he can follow the standard melodic song structure he usually disregards.

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