Sondre Lerche's six albums have shown him to be a consummate pro of a songwriter and an apt constructor of great-sounding studio albums. Bootlegs gives proof to anyone who hasn't seen Lerche's live show that he not half bad on-stage either. Recorded in Norway and in various clubs in Brooklyn on his 2011 tour, the collection gathers songs from across his career that he delivers with surprisingly impassioned power. Part of the strength derives from the simple way the songs were recorded -- one track from the soundboard, one track on a room mike -- the rest of it comes from the performances. Lerche and his band sound raw and muscular, guitars rippling and feeding back as the drums pound and Lerche leaves it all on the stage vocally. He scales it back on a few solo tracks, "Modern Nature," "My Hands Are Shaking," and the lilting midtempo "When the River," but manages to imbue these songs with a fierceness often missing from his studio efforts. The uptempo tracks have the same high levels of excitement; it sounds like Lerche and his tight band are on fire. Along with the feverish sound and performances, it helps that he selected some of his best songs for inclusion. "Two Way Monologue," "Sleep on Needles," "Phantom Punch," and "Airport Taxi Reception" are classic indie pop tracks, "Domino" is a wonderfully dramatic ballad, and "Private Caller" sounds like punk Bacharach (especially this version). Bootlegs may not be essential Sondre Lerche, but it's a thrilling document of his live set and a reminder that he's not just a brilliant songwriter, but a rocker too.
by Tim Sendra