Here’s a trifecta of debut albums that came out Friday, from Cassandra Violet, Douglas and Hey, King! …
CASSANDRA VIOLET, “Maybe It’s Not Too Late”
Cassandra Violet’s debut album, coming after years of releasing EPs and singles and making strong statements about women and their roles, sparkles with personality. Her honeyed vocals slide easily between cosmic folk (“Superbloom”), pop-country (“Last On”), tender balladry (“Swim Test”) and keys-accented indie-rock (“Tick Tick”). Imagine Jenny Lewis, if she were a schoolteacher who, after long days with the kids, dashed off her deepest thoughts without being slave to a particular style. Joe Berry (M83) produced. “Maybe It’s Not Too Late,” Violet says, “is deeply personal to me, as it’s been my saving grace after teaching eight hours of Zoom classes to LAUSD students, many of whom have been heavily impacted by the pandemic [but who] continue to show up to class. They have really inspired me to show up to create my own art. Although this album is centered on society’s expectations of women and even domestic cosplay, it’s dedicated to my students and anyone who needs an escape right now.”
HEY, KING!, “Hey, King”
The duo of Natalie London and Taylor Plecity take the four originals on last year’s dynamic debut EP, “Be Still,” and pile on seven more Ben Harper-produced songs for a decidedly celebratory (though far from Pollyana) first album. You might know their backstory — how London rebounded from a long illness with the help of her relationship with Plecity. How it informs the duo’s seize-the-moment indie-rock is a marvel, whether they’re doing biting blues or squishy, romantic affirmations (“Morning”). For fans of artists such as Tegan & Sara, Indigo Girls and Coco Rosie, and of overcoming.
Amy Douglas White’s solo debut “Ashes” trades in many shades of the ethereal, balancing dark and light in doses of shoegaze, electronic pop and ambient music. Everything makes for great cinema (witness the short film for the instrumental “Alter Ego”), and when she’s singing, Douglas is the brightest star in her orchestrated galaxy. Jonathan Bates (Big Black Delta), bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Nine Inch Nails), drummer Kris Persson (Gunnar Gehl) and cellist Kendall Reid lend a hand. We’ve touted the maximalist power of “Cigarettes” and “Seventeen,” and the shimmering nerve of “Clouds.” See the Spanish track “Dime” for something even more cloud-born.