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Around Hear Page 2

| August 29, 2008 | 1 Comment

While there’s no denying the sincerity or songwriting talents of singer Thomas Pace, his fourth self-released album, New American Way, leaves a bit to be desired. Sweet, tuneful tracks such as “60 Seconds Wasted” and “The Damage Is Done” are just a couple of the extremely well-crafted songs here, but overall, the end product is bland, leaving little impression either way. (www.thomaspace.com)
– Dean Ramos

If The Cars in the peak of ’80s excess were funneled through the indie rock channels of Dinosaur Jr., it would sound something like The Pale Gallery on its self-titled EP. However, those quirky harmonies and distorted guitars clash throughout cuts like “Autograph!” and “Hold Yr Breath,” while the band could also benefit from better production. Clearly the gang prefers a stripped-back, lo-fi approach, but needs to ditch muffled vocal effects (“Disgusthis”) and buried percussion (“Drop The Deadbeat 4/4”). (www.myspace.com/thepalegallery)
– Andy Argyrakis

Ike Reilly‘s latest, Poison The Hit Parade, comprises alternate takes and unreleased tracks from his three previous releases that have garnered him and his band considerable national media praise. That said, Poison, is an eclectic mix of songs that, while oft’ evocative of Dylan, are just as likely to reflect Reilly’s Irish roots as they are his hook-filled character sketches middle-America. A further bonus is the three-song video DVD. (www.ikereilly.com)
– David Eldredge

Al Rose is one of Chicago’s most interesting and creative songwriters. His newest CD, My First Posthumous Release, continues on his path of personal, witty, and intelligent song-smithing with tracks like “I’m Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” and “Haiku Blues.” Rose comes across like a more left-of-center Bob Dylan and seems to have found his stride on this release. (www.alrosemusic.com)
– Mike O’Cull

Singer/comedian Screwie Lewie‘s latest release, Never Give Up!/Nunca Te Des!, is a box set that includes the CD, a mix CD, and a DVD. Aside from occasional misfired attempts at humor like “Strongman” and “No Money No Honey,” the techno dance songs are fun, and Screwie Lewie’s smooth singing recalls “Music That You Can Dance To”-era Sparks. (www.screwielewie.com)
– Terrence Flamm

For those wondering if jam bands were a thing of the past, Seers Poncho assure they aren’t on Baker Creek. Unfortunately, however, Poncho seem to suffer from many of the same pitfalls as numerous other genremates, such as overly long songs and redundancy. They almost overcome the latter with a ska/reggae-tinged tune called “Negativity,” but by this time it’s too late. (www.seersponcho.com)
– Dean Ramos

Sunday Morning Chameleon’s sophomore effort, More Human, runs the length of a standard EP, but the quartet’s six tracks leave listeners clamoring for more. Sadly, news of a full-length studio effort is still anticipated as the band offers a new single disguised as an iTunes-only bonus track on the EP. At least it’s something to savor until the next batch of tunes makes its way to iPods everywhere. The single in question, “Follow The Light,” encapsulates the band’s strengths – explosive vocals, gushing guitars, and contagious hooks. (www.myspace.com/smcmusic)
– Janine Schaults

Despite its slew of genre influences such as new wave, ’60s pop, and indie rock, Unicycle Loves You‘s self-titled debut is, above all else, a pop record. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Bouncy numbers like the psychedelic “Under 18” and the beach-movie feel of “Hawaii” are standouts, to be sure. However, the perkiness grates after awhile, resulting in a mixed bag and ending with a dull thud. (www.unicyclelovesyou.com)
– Dean Ramos

The lyrics on Victorian Halls‘ off-the-wall Springsteen EP can be fascinating, and songs like “Tsk Tsk (A Crush Is A Crush)” have catchy glam rock arrangements. The band’s calling card is the screeching of singer/guitarist Sean Lenart and pianist/singer Carlos Luna, but the gimmick wears thin quickly. The elaborate “It’s A Ghost Town, Alleiluya” shows Victorian Halls are pretty ambitious, so maybe it’s time to tone down the self-indulgent vocals. (www.victorianhalls.com)
– Terrence Flamm

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Piano rocker Ian Wilson admits listening to a lot of Ben Folds and Tori Amos, and while his songwriting lacks the satire of the former or the idiosyncrasy of the latter, he makes promising strides on The Crater EP. “Inanimate Objects” is a playful pop romp with effectively eccentric chord structuring, “Creative Writing Work-shop” showcases more skillful piano playing over a deeply personal lyrical presentation, and “Let’s Go” ends the record on a hauntingly moving note. (www.ianwilsonmusic.com)
– Andy Argyrakis

Belle & Sebastian fans will instantly fall in love with Zerostars, whose Broken Stories is a glittering collection of magical pop moments. Sweet-ly twee, with acerbic observations that make the honeysuckle melodies lusciously bittersweet, “I Put My Foot Down” and “Johnny” ring with memorable hooks and pitch-perfect vocals. “Dad’s Dress” plays on the genre staple of sexual androgyny backed with luminous guitar sparkle and tumbling drums. (www.zerostars.com)
– Patrick Conlan

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  1. Jason says:

    Many thanks to Patrick Conlan for the more than favorable review of Zerostars this month. Just one adjustment if I may. Our album is called “Basement Stories”, not “Broken Stories”. Thanks all the same.

    Sincerely,
    Jason Moody
    zerostars.com

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