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Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night SweatsTearing at the SeamsStax
Barrence Whitfield and the SavagesSoul Flowers of TitanBloodshot
Robust rock and soul singers are often referred to as “shouters,” a term that doesn’t do justice to the personality and skill some artists bring to their craft. Exhibit A: Tearing at the Seams, the glorious second studio album from Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. The brawny beats, sultry horns, and funky organ might spark fond memories of the ‘60s glory days of Stax and other classic R&B labels, but there’s nothing retro or reverent about Rateliff’s electrifying performance. Mixing equal quantities of grit and tenderness, he specializes in heart-on-sleeve songs about vulnerability and longing, including “Say It Louder” and “You Worry Me,” sure to resonate with anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with romantic angst. Rateliff can also get rowdy—the stomping “Intro” recalls early Bob Seger at his most exuberant—so he might want to tackle a full set of party songs for a change of pace someday.
Barrence Whitfield, who’s been doing his thing since the 1980s, comes off as a dangerous maniac by comparison. On the exciting Soul Flowers of Titan, the raucous frontman and his aptly named Savages suggest a traditional soul band drunk on punk-rock aggression. For all the raw fury of tracks like “Let’s Go to Mars” and “Slowly Losing My Mind,” though, Whitfield is far more than an old-school shouter. Like the great David Johansen, he tempers his attack with bracing measures of humor and finesse. To relieve stress instantly, go here.