The second installment of the The Space Parlour: Live in St. Louis series does what any good local compilation should do: It provides a sonic snapshot of a city's working musicians, highlights stylistic differences and suggests some sonic connections that transcend genre. These twenty tracks, which were recorded earlier this spring and broadcast on Nick Acquisto's KDHX (88.1 FM) radio show of the same name, demonstrate the programmer's diverse taste in music. While the previous incarnation of the series focused more on of-the-moment indie rock, the 2008 edition broadens the spectrum to include variations of guitar-based rock & roll. Learn, Artist! condenses its epic, instrumental explorations into "Under the Volcano," carving out a space that is both amorphous and suggestive. It's especially nice to see Dub Kitchen on the comp — this town's reggae community has deep roots, but it rarely crosses over into other scenes. The group's uptempo "District 3" follows the proud tradition of reggae songs that ask probing political questions while never dropping the beat.
While the sojourns away from straight-ahead rock & roll are noteworthy, there's plenty of good old-fashioned 4/4 rock action as well. The Deserters start off the disc with "Trash," a snaky, spindly shot of crunchy guitars and off-kilter vocals, and the Vultures reassert themselves as garage-rock saviors with a pair of raucous tracks. And while Theodore labors more squarely in the alt-country vein, the quartet continues to make its claim as the best band in town with the unhinged sing-along "Half Pint" and the circular, droning "Nowhere Near the Sea." It's worth picking up Live in St. Louis 2008 for Theodore's songs alone, although there are plenty of bands here that deserve your attention. The package also comes with a DVD containing live footage from the recordings. And while the prospect of watching a bunch of headphone-wearing dudes playing in a recording booth may not seem like compelling viewing, it serves as a nice visual complement to the music on the disc.
CD/DVD release shows at 9 p.m. on Saturday, September 13, and Wednesday, September 17, at Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $10. 314-773-3363.
Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o The Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.