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Around Hear: July 2011

| June 30, 2011 | 2 Comments

Local Band Reviews

In just six songs, Automata packs an atmospheric soundtrack in its debut EP. Microcosm is a genre-defying pastiche of psychedelic guitar, swirling keyboards, and shuffling rhythms supporting Rachel Sarah Thomas’ soulful crooning. Reggae-inspired beats pulse behind the plinking guitar figures in “The Traitor,” and blue-eyed soul collides with light electronics, as melodies morph together in the kaleidoscopic “Throwback.” The album’s cohesiveness is a testament to the articulate tunesmithing, and the band is generously offering free downloads on its Web site. (thisisautomata.com)
– Patrick Conlan

The one-time member of hip-hop collective All Natural turned solo artist (and sports attorney/author/speaker by day) Cap D goes back to his mid-’90s roots on PolyMath. Though some songs sound dated at times, most of the disc is a free-flowin’ throwback to groups like Arrested Development and The Fugees, crossed with a decidedly Chicago flair that will likely sit well with fans of Twista and Lupe Fiasco. (allnaturalhiphop.com)
– Andy Argyrakis

As slick purveyors of ’80s-style dance-oriented pop/rock, Dot Dot Dot nail all the requisite elements with panache: steady 4/4 beats, smooth synth lines, and big choruses. “Around The World (And Back)” and “Stay” from EP II certainly recall Wham-era synth pop, but “Hold You Tonight” reaches soaring heights with the type of dramatic, swelling orchestration that would make Snow Patrol proud. (dotdotdotonline.com)
– Patrick Conlan

Power trio Even Bigger cranks out a half dozen high-energy songs that tap into The Clash and Ramones on its In Actual D EP. “Hold Up” is a cautionary tale about robbing people with your girlfriend, especially when her itchy trigger finger points toward you, while on “Breathe,” it’s the boyfriend who has homicidal urges. Guitarist/vocalist Matt Myers, bassist/vocalist P. Matthew Hart, and drummer Ray Losch keep the adrenaline pumping, particularly on the raging “Wrong Again.” (reverbnation.com/evenbigger)
– Terrence Flamm

“And you ask yourself a second set of questions/on this snowy mountain,” Gypsyblood idyllically paints at the onset of its debut, Cold In The Guestway (Sargent House). And you think to yourself, if there’s snow on the ground, why are my ears melting? The duo’s penchant for torturous guitar outbursts, and haunting, Jesus & Mary Chain pace is about as picturesque as a landfill. Despite the violent EQ, the band occasionally play for laughs, including what sounds like a mockery of The Rolling Stones doing Delta blues. (gypsyblood.net)
– Steve Forstneger

Carl Hauck writes delicate but engaging acoustic folk brightened with strings, piano, and horns. Windjammer‘s brightly produced sound glistens with AOR-friendliness without smothering the songs with excess polish, and Hauck’s voice is given ample headspace to leave a lasting impression. A spark of electric guitar amplifies the piano and acoustic bass in “Coming Away,” and “Coffee On The Rocks” elegantly documents the doldrums of grinding through the plodding monotony of Office Space-style work. (carlhauck.com)
– Patrick Conlan

Hogtown Packing Co. shows a varied repertoire of upbeat, freewheelin’ rock with a healthy helping of bluesy, barroom swagger, and a dash of boogie-woogie soul on their self-titled CD. “Salvation” smacks of ’80s metal with chunky power chords, fiery solo leads, and invigorating rhythmic punch. “Send Me Back” features acoustic guitar strumming layered with silvery licks that blossom into a cathartic climax, and the sun-drenched melody inspiring the wanderlust in “Mexico (TDS)” is perfect for summertime escapism.(www.hogtownpackingco.com)
– Patrick Conlan

Chicken On A Bicycle, the second effort from Hop On Pop, holds up well considering guitarist Todd Leiter-Weintraub confesses to having “indulged every little whim and odd thought” in putting it together. There’s plenty of genre-hopping, from the harrowing acoustic tale of an abusive husband on “C’mon Angel” to the new-wave silliness of “Here.” Leiter-Weintraub gravitates toward the absurd, particularly on the acoustic “Sheila Of The Worms.” (hoponpopmusic.com)
– Terrence Flamm

Attempting to follow in the footsteps of successful acts like Evanescence, Flyleaf, and Hole, Losing Scarlet‘s eponymous debut delivers a full serving of female-fronted metal. While it’s a decent try, unfortunately Jodi Kell’s vocals don’t carry the passionate aggression of Courtney Love or the ethereal sweetness of Amy Lee, and the power chords beneath her are solid but not memorable. Softer moments like “Lacerate” and “Foresaken” are what end up most clearly showing both Kell’s and the band’s potential. (myspace.com/losingscarlet)
– Carter Moss

With the blistering pace of his solos, Bill Lubera doesn’t give much time to heed his Global Warning. Of all the threats this 10-track, instrumental-guitar offering points to, only one or two can’t tied to the carbon footprint of Lubera’s overdriven amplifiers. The blinding assault can be a little too choreographed and precise, but maybe that’s necessary when building music you want to endure. (billlubera.com)
– Steve Forstneger

It’s What’s Inside That Rocks goes back 20 years to when guitar virtuosos were not only making records by the bucketful, but selling them that way. Lyden Moon certainly has the chops to run with those old horses, never sitting too long on an idea before whipping out a new trick. There’s little melodic payoff, however, and the few repeated themes are glued to either the core riff or chord changes. Because of that, Moon’s guitar soars but it rarely sings. (lydenmoon.com)
– Steve Forstneger

The first lyric on the opening track to Pet Lover‘s 10-song Oblivion boasts, “I used to chew Bubbalicious.” The statement, and peppy tempo of the song “Alicia,” is pure bubblegum rock. The band generally stays true to this style, with guitar-driven songs highlighted by melodic crooning and occasional piano and saxophone. Pet Lover takes one surprising hard-edged turn on “Detriot,” declaring “You can’t make me go back,” and ending with “Fuck you, Detroit.” (petlovermusic.com)
– Jason Scales

As the group’s moniker implies, Random Touch jumps all over the map throughout Reverberating Apparatus. With influences spanning the jazzy Miles Davis and Weather Report to the tripped-out Frank Zappa and the lush art pop of Roxy Music, it’s certainly hard to peg the players, but also equally frustrating to hear all the seemingly divergent influences on top of one another. Though the guys are no doubt proficient players, the improvisation and experimentation would be best suited for the stage rather than repeated CD listens. (randomtouch.com)
– Andy Argyrakis

The Rockin’ Ace‘s “Hello Rock ‘N’ Roll” 45 single and the comic strip it springs from are both created by musician/artist Slink Moss. A former member of The Farmers, Moss continues in a similar roots rock/1960s vein on this fun, guitar-driven party tune, as well as on the soulful and more subdued B-side, “Light A Fire With Desire.” (slinkmoss.com/Legends.html)
– Terrence Flamm

Claiming itself to be “not a cover band, but a concept band,” Scalding Lucy at least earns points for originality. The duo (BJ Cox & Lucille Balls) creates an eclectic mix of mash-ups and original songs on its debut, In The Sky With Diamonds, that is very high in creativity but rather low in musicality. Pairing together classics like “Pretty Vacant”/”Stayin’ Alive” or “Get Off My Cloud”/”Wild Thing,” and adding its own spin to them musically, may sound like a cool idea – but it simply does not work. The duo proves the adage once again: just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. (myspace.com/scaldinglucy)
– Carter Moss

Maru is the impressive debut album from Silhavey, brimming with sparkling melodies and vocal harmonies; it’s the kind of album that exudes summery exuberance. The opening three-song suite of “Brother Man,” “Parables,” and “Jungle” is awash in shimmering West Coast-inspired hooks, glinting horns, and fluid vocal lines; they’re peppy pop songs just begging for a beach party. Piano and jangly, power-pop guitars mingle freely and underpin the swinging rhythm in “Waiting For Sunshine,” and “Last Words” closes the album on an upbeat note. (www.silhavey.com)
– Patrick Conlan

If one feels compelled to write music in Denver, it’s probably to mack on some girl at the ski lodge or blister the vanilla confines. Swayback do neither, probably because frontman Eric Halborg hails from these parts. The interregional marriage on the Keep It Hive EP sounds surprisingly like the more mature elements of Foo Fighters, conscious of coloring within the lines but never pandering with hard edges. Production by Andy Johns pushes the band’s most marketable aspects, when really they could use some color. (theswayback.com)
– Kevin Keegan

Her debut, four-track EP never hints that Tiffany Thompson seeks anything more than to get up and sing some songs like the ones she loves on the radio. The opener starts with a line about being in a coffeeshop, and the rest of the release sits there with her, never quite overcoming the crowded genre but not giving it a bad name. By the end of “Please,” it’s hard not to root for her, either. (tiffanythompsonmusic.com)
– Steve Forstneger

Barn-burning metallers Whut unleash another melodic, brutal long-player with Laughing With The Sinners (Scumbag). Improving on previous albums, this gravelly mix of thundering rock and hardcore influences hits with catchy uppercuts and bristling intensity. The boys lay down some seriously thick, coursing grooves in “To: Missed Death (Cheers)” and “Set Up For Justice,” and frantic pits are sure to ensue when it rips into “Decriminalize,” a favorite topic of the band (check out the clever domain name). (www.whuthc.com)
– Patrick Conlan

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Category: Around Hear, Columns, Monthly

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  1. Just wanted to give a hardy “thank you!” to Terrence Flamm for his kind words about the latest Hop On Pop album.
    The notice is always appreciated, and kind words are especially appreciated.

  2. Thank you Pat, escapism…that’s sums it up…

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