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Around Hear Page 3

| March 30, 2007 | 0 Comments

With a keen ear for pleasant acoustic pop, Mighty Joe delivers a bountiful suite of winsome tunes on Balance. Violin, harmonica, and congos add subtle accents to Joe’s precise, crisp strumming and provide tonal complexity and dimension to otherwise straightforward arrangements. The melodies are uniformly sweet, even if the stories are occasionally drab and the lyrics lack any real insight. (www.mightyjoemusic.com)
– Dean Ramos

The Joel Moore Quartet explore lengthy jazz compositions comprising Moore’s glistening, husky tenor saxophone, plinking keyboards, and subdued drumming. Coiled together, each instrument is allowed its respective space, without disrupting the essential blending of tones and textures. The rhythmic foundation is perhaps the most interesting, as the light percussion and pliant basslines prove to be nimble and melodic (“Hat Trick,” “November”). (www.joelmoorequartet.com)
– Patrick Conlan

Chicago-based sludge metal specialists Planetstruck are not the kind of band you’d want to bring home to meet Mom. Their latest five-track, face-pounding EP makes no bones about it – these boys have some issues. The biggest surprise is their instrumental talent: mature, melodic, and intense, all at once. The biggest disappointment is the lead vocals: intense, but void of maturity or melody, and usually impossible to understand. Maybe the band should stick to producing purely instrumental jams. (www.myspace.com/planetstruck9)
– Carter Moss

While there never seems to be a shortage of earnest singer-songwriters ever so blatantly brandishing their tattered hearts on their worn and weathered sleeves, there are a surprisingly few as thoughtful and talented as Mike Reeb. With songs like the Dylan-esque “Ease Up Or Give Up The Fight,” the tender “Oxford Street,” and the sarcastic, yet introspective “Consequences,” it’s entirely possible that with these and the rest of the songs off Without The City Lights, the Midwest can have their very own Bruce Springsteen. (www.mikereeb.com)
– Dean Ramos

While it’s not altogether clear if the focus of #William Steffey’s Romance Of The Spaceways is astrological or astronomical, the dozen tunes on this vaguely science fiction concept album are certainly thought-provoking, in particular “Sanctuary” and the deceptively named “Simple Song.” Conceptually and sonically there’s a palpable Thomas Dolby-inspired audacity that, despite Steffey’s often overtaxed vocals, fashions an impressive ambiance. (www.aquariphone.com)
– Jeff Berkwits

Former Garden Bower member Frank Tribes owes much to The Beatles and The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn on his third solo album, Gallery, a pleasant collection of songs that induce feelings of summer. From the album’s opener, “On My Way,” to “One For You,” there’s no place better to listen to these tunes than while in the car with the windows rolled down. Tribes’ knack for memorable melodies and track record of solid compositions easily earn this release the designation as best of his career. (www.franktribes.com)
– Janine Schaults

Folk man Jon Troast likes songwriters from yesteryear (think Cat Stevens or Harry Chapin), and while he mirrors their writing, he most accurately evokes Damien Rice on vocals. Second Story is loaded with 10 narratives ranging from growing up in a large family to relationships to dream chasing, which at times can run a bit dry, but for the most part weave an entertaining web. (www.jontroast.com)
– Andy Argyrakis

Sure, the title of their debut, The Greatest Show On Earth (Trump Tight), is brash, but confidence is not something that hip-hop crew Trump Tight lack. They eschew the characteristically sleek production sheen in favor of a gritty tone that actually lends some depth and dimension to their generic vibes. The throbbing beats, lyrical rhythm, and layered harmonies, however, are undercut by the insipid lyrics about gaining respect, gangsta street cred, and an exquisitely elaborate description of undoubtedly the greatest stereo on Earth. (www.myspace.com/trumptightrecords)
– Patrick Conlan

Self-proclaimed “dough boy” Tycoon Da Hustla is all about the almighty dollar, but his approach is more akin to Juvenile than fellow South Sider Kanye West. On his five-track demo, this flashy up-and-comer thrives, effortlessly rapping over Dirty Soc’s booming Southern bounce-styled beats. And while he does his share of expected flossing and showboating (“When U See Me”), Tycoon also convincingly gives a shout out to the everyday nine-to-fivers (“My People”). In time, he could very well become the next people’s champ of Chicago. (www.myspace.com/tycoondahustla)
– Max Herman

The hard-rocking dudes in Johnny Vomit obviously got into music for the partying and the XXX-rated sexcapades, as evidenced on the band’s 17-track CD, Extreme Championship Drinking. Songs such as “Bar Face,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll Pussy Hole,” “Beer Bong Barf Bag,” and, simply put, “Fuck,” are short (most are songs under two minutes), hardcore punk explosions that glamorize the brutal side of debauchery. (www.johnnyvomit.net)
– Jason Scales

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