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New recordings: Mary Lattimore, Little Dragon, Joe Goddard [The Philadelphia Inquirer :: BC-MUS-ALBUMS:PH]

Mary Lattimore

"Collected Pieces"


Philadelphia's loss is Los Angeles' gain, as harpist Mary Lattimore moved west before the release of this six-track, often disquietingly beautiful set of songs recorded in her former apartment. Mixed by longtime collaborator Jeff Ziegler, the instrumentals recorded over five years are plucked on her 47-string harp. The song treatments reflect her classical training and - not surprising coming from a musician who has backed up Kurt Vile and Sharon Van Etten, among others - an indie-rock sensibility and taste for echo and noise. As well as being a uniquely skilled musician who ranks behind only Joanna Newsom in the harp-star pop pantheon, Lattimore - whose previous album, "At the Dam," was recorded during a cross-country trip in a Volvo station wagon and named after a Joan Didion essay - is also something of a marketing genius. If you want people to listen to 10-minute-plus harp instrumentals, it can be a good idea to give them evocative, curiosity-piquing titles like the haunting "It Was Late and We Watched the Motel Burn," and the becalming "Wawa By the Ocean," inspired by her favorite beachside convenience store in Ship Bottom, N.J.

_Dan DeLuca


Little Dragon

"Season High"

(Loma Vista, (ASTERISK)(ASTERISK)1/2)

Little Dragon's Grammy nomination for best electronic/dance album for 2014's "Nabuma Rubberband" raised the profile of this band from Gothenburg, Sweden. "Season High," the quartet's fifth album, opens with "Celebrate," a glossy, synth-pop track that in its multicultural jumble recalls the kitchen-sink aesthetic of Gorillaz (lead singer Yukimi Nagano contributed to their 2010 album "Plastic Beach"). They downshift dramatically with the second track, the appealingly languorous slow-jam "High," and thereby establish the album's two contrary threads: "Pop Life" and "Sweet" are dense with accelerated dance-floor rhythms, abrupt textures, and Nagano's chipper voice, and "Butterflies" and "Gravity" are sparser and more somber, with Nagano often singing toward the bottom of her range. Although unified by crisp production and synth tones that recall the new-wave '80s (especially on the pulsing "Strobe Light"), "Season High" whiplashes without quite gelling.

_Steve Klinge


Joe Goddard

"Electric Lines"


Joe Goddard has a long pedigree in UK club culture: Along with vocalist Alexis Taylor, he leads London's great dance-pop band Hot Chip; he's also half of the 2 Bears and the producer behind numerous remixes, including a Grammy-nominated one for the Chemical Brothers' "Wide Open." "Electric Lines" is the second full-length with his name on it, after 2009's all-instrumental Harvest Festival, and it's a treat.

Like Jamie xx's "In Colour," it blends a wide spectrum of styles - deep house, disco, garage, techno, soul - in a bright set of instrumentals and vocal tracks (mostly from guests, although Goddard occasionally takes the mic). Built on synths and samples, songs like the thumping "Home," the slinky "Nothing Moves," and the gentle "Electric Lines" (with vocals from Taylor) flow seamlessly. "Music is the answer to your problems / Keep on moving and you can solve them," Jess Mills sings on the aptly anthemic "Music Is the Answer." "Electric Lines" won't solve your problems, but it will keep you moving.

_Steve Klinge


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