Arts & Culture

Music Reviews: September 2015

The latest from Natural Velvet and Marian McLaughlin

Natural Velvet
She Is Me (Friends Records)

Simply put, Natural Velvet is badass. The local post-punk band is a tight interplay of four commanding forces, with two searing guitars, one crashing drum kit, and the drowsy wail and rumbling bass of frontwoman Corynne Ostermann—a kind of mesmerizing Joan Jett meets Morrissey. At times, her voice is an unembellished, magnetic monotone, like in the dreamy head bang of the first single, “Fruits.” At others, she lets loose a piercing howl, punctuating the wiry, whirling noise of songs like “Sewn Through.” The end product is always raw, rip-roaring, and unapologetic, confirming that this Baltimore band is one to watch. See for yourself at their record release party on September 11 at The Crown.

Marian McLaughlin
Spirit House (self-released)

McLaughlin’s brand of folk music is not the Appalachian Americana so popular today—and she’s the better for it. Hers is more experimental, harkening back as it does to the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods of the past. The Baltimore singer-songwriter’s second album is full of breathy, undulating ballads underpinned by traditional instrumentation and troubadour lyrics with hints of orchestral chamber music. While some songs digress into more modern, percussive melodies, she’s a classic Celtic storyteller at heart, as though stranded with her dirges on some stony, sea-drenched shore. Check out her album release on September 4 at Creative Alliance.