Even in today's eclectic modern-music landscape, there's no indication that the ukulele is going to take over as the preferred instrument of rockers worldwide. Yet the four-stringed Hawaiian vessel of joy stands front and center in the realm of the Montreal-based trio Sister Suvi. As plucked by Merrill Garbus, it's clear this is not your grandmother's uke. Sister Suvi’s tapestry of voices is perfect and practiced, the stuff of Akron/Family and Deerhoof, of doo-wop and locomotive; the way we'd all whoop barreling down the tracks. They create a sparse sound that lives somewhere between Sean Paul and free jazz. Compact and percussive, with moments of intoxicating volume, Suvi can seem light and gay on the surface, but their humor is a thin veil for more macabre themes.
Songs In the Night, 22-year-old Oklahoma-based songwriter Samantha Crain’s full-length debut with her band the Midnight Shivers, is produced by Danny Kadar (Grizzly Bear, My Morning Jacket, The Avett Brothers) and follows up to 2008’s The Confiscation EP. Abrasive, jangly indie rock and smooth, whispery folk meet as Crain's distinct voice presents each song with an unfeigned fervor as it rises and falls over the panorama painted by the Midnight Shivers and their roots-infused, fertile arrangements. She paints mystical, poetic slipstreams of words onto a canvas of haunting echo-chamber lap steel, earthy acoustic guitars and loose-change tambourine, delivering her graceful songs with a gorgeous, quivering voice. In a genre often pinned to formulaic sounds and themes, Samantha Crain is re-stitching the seams of