No “Pain,” no gain. If loud guitars and extensive drum fills are more your style, you won’t want to miss The Letter Black’s third album Pain. Funded on Kickstarter, the band has declared it their no-boundaries, “heaviest record yet,” freed from label conventions to make a hard rock album for their longtime fans. No noticeable drop-off’s in production value, and the band really sounds as if they’ve rejuvenated their efforts just for you. Additionally, front woman Sarah Anthony puts on a clinic for leading chick-rockers. If you love bands like Red and Skillet, you’ll definitely want to add a dose of Pain to your summer rock playlist.
It might be tempting to dismiss this Ralph Towner effort as New Age fluff, but the music is so gorgeous that any such considerations fall to the wayside. Yet the wayside is precisely where Towner sets his sights, which is to say that his interest lies in edges where musical idioms meet. He explores these lines, not unlike the blotted cover, with an ease of diction at the fret board that is recognizable and comforting. Drummer Peter Erskine shares the bill, but Towner adds a few synth touches for broader effect, as in “The Sigh,” which opens the session in a cleft of fluid energy.