CD Reviews: Daphne Lee Martin, The Fifth Estate, Michael Cleary Band, The Streams

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There were more than 76,800 albums released in 2011, according to Nielsen SounScan, and believe it or not, we didn’t get around to all of them. Here are a few releases we missed by Connecticut artists:

Daphne Lee Martin & Raise the Rent, “Dig & Be Dug” (The Telegraph Recording Company). New London resident Martin digs vintage sounds on her debut, from dusty borderland meditations to hints of Dixieland and old-school country. She’s at her best on the torchy tunes, singing in sultry tones over blasts of Mariachi-style trumpet on “Old Guitar” and murmuring wistfully on the waltz-time “Saratoga Rain.” (Available via iTunes or at the Telegraph, the record store Martin co-owns in New London.)

The Fifth Estate, “Time Tunnel” (Roxon Records). It’s no wonder the Fifth Estate sounds like it fell through a time tunnel from the ’60s — it did, in a sense. “Time Tunnel” is the Stamford band’s first LP since 1992, and just the third in a discography stretching back to their debut single as the D-Men in 1964. The new album hews closely to that classic garage-rock sound, packing chiming guitars, chugging bass lines and vocal harmonies into songs about rock ’n’ roll and girls. (Available via iTunes.)

Michael Cleary Band, “MCB Five” (self-released). Portland resident Cleary celebrates his 20th anniversary as bandleader with his fifth album, a collection of genial groove-rock tunes featuring a handful songwriting and vocal contributions from keyboard player Vin Delaria and drummer Edmund Peart. These 10 songs are mostly low-key jams, though “You Got My Love” cranks up biting guitar licks and “Free James Brown” takes an incongruous country-rock turn. (Available via iTunes.)

The Streams, “Today, I Died” (self-released). If you’ve been waiting for an album of songs about the Civil War, you’re in luck: New Haven-area band the Streams has emerged from a 20-year hiatus with a collection of songs the group used to play back in the day. Don’t let the subject matter put you off: these are tightly arranged songs full of meaty guitar parts and lyrics with a literary bent. It’s a welcome return by one of the stronger bands on the local scene in the early ’90s. (Available via iTunes.)

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