Miami folkies Raffa Jo Harris and Rainer Davies play the sort of wistful melodies that make your heart leap. Romantic, cute, and beguiling, Harris' sweet-as-honey vocals flutter over bluesy acoustic guitar and syrupy horns on the pair's latest, No Mercy. The 11-track album, which includes more than 30 different additional contributors, traverses new, more intricate ground for the duo.
The new explorations include everything from the quirky, bluegrass-tinged "A Little Bit" to the heavier "Palo Santo," to "Ballet," which recalls Regina Spektor with repetitive turns of phrase and even beatboxing. In fact, it's hard to pick a "best" song on the disc, as Raffa's voice adapts so well to such a range of styles without losing its signature jazzy twang. Thus the album - layered, upbeat, poetic, quirky - is almost as versatile as it is sweet. -- Erica K. Landau
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After only a handful of months playing under this band name, the West Palm Beach quartet (now a quintet) struck upon a magical indie rock formula in the studio in the middle of last year. The band crafted tender melodies over scuzzy guitar riffs and unpredictable bombast; the end result would become the brilliant debut LP, Astro Coast. Somehow these fresh-faced kids, barely out of their teens, managed to cull the best parts of our favorite '90s bands.
There is Weezer's youthful post-punk glee, for one, as well as the Jesus and Mary Chain's Beach Boys-through-distortion hiss. It's all packaged and sealed into one phenomenal album. Songs like "Slow Jabroni" - with its wall of reverbed vocals over addictive hooks -- and "Catholic Pagans"-- exquisite quite-loud-quite Pixies catharsis --hint at the enormous potential these South Florida youngsters have. It's no wonder this originally self-released album was snatched up by major label Kanine Records and will be released nationally come January 19. -- Alex Rendon