Lodestar (CD)

Lodestar is English folk singer Shirley Collins’ first album in 38 years and it’s well worth the wait. These are traditional English, American, and Cajun folk songs — songs from a different world, from a different time. They’re spare and simple, occasionally macabre and cruel, sometimes pastoral and lovely. Eighty-one-year-old Collins’ voice is perfect for the material; it’s the voice of someone who has seen it all, who’s a vessel for these (in many cases) ancient tales from a forgotten place, where Morris dancers’ bells jingle in the village green and pagan rites and beliefs are woven into the fabric of everyday Judeo-Christian life. Fun fact: Collins is backed on this record by Ian Kearey (Oysterband) and Ossian Brown and Stephen Thrower (Cyclobe, Coil).

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Little Seeds (CD)

Life and death are at the heart of the South Carolinan duo's latest album, and they perform it with a vitality and vigor as if there was no tomorrow. A more rockin' grouping of songs makes Little Seeds less folky than past ventures and more akin to the sounds of mid-west garage rockers like The Black Keys or The Greenhornes. Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent's approach to their mixture of folk and rock is spiritually similar to that of X's Exene Cervenka and John Doe, with their dual vocals at the helm of their souped up Americana. "Botched Execution" has a Cramps-like morbid sense of humor, while the performance would fit well into the ouvre of Jack White, as would "Buffalo Nickel" with its old-west-saloon funk. The mandolin led "St. Anne's Parade" is a heartfelt, folksy respite from the intensity that pulses throughout the album.

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