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Around Hear: July 2013

Bitchin Bajas

Why a band that records contemplative instrumentals would call itself Bitchin Bajas is just one of life’s great mysteries and something to ponder while listening to this duo’s latest release, Bitchitronics. The four epic-length, glacier-paced tracks are primarily based on keyboards, although “Transcendence” has a strain of energetic guitar running through it. Bitchitronics isn’t likely to get people up and dancing, but for meditation purposes (or an excuse to chill-out), this just might do the trick. (bitchinbajas.tumblr.com)
– Terrence Flamm

If you’re going to steal, steal from the best. The Buzzhounds are living proof of that adage, with the 11 songs comprising Weapons Of Mass Seduction featuring licks and vocal gymnastics pinched from the likes of Kid Rock (“Give 2 Live”) and post-Led Zeppelin Robert Plant (“Gone”). Fortunately, there’s still a ton of originality to their bluesy-rock sound. Good artists may copy, but it’s clear from this debut that soon-to-be-great artists truly do steal. (buzzhounds.net)
– Jeff Berkwits

It’s not hard to imagine Paul Coady and his pals banging away in a basement recording Our Father’s Sons, which in no way should be misconstrued as a negative observation. There’s a roughness and immediacy to the music that’s energizing, especially on “I’m Goin’ Back” and the Rolling Stones-infused “No Excuse.” A local fixture for more than two decades, the 10 tunes here find him ready and raring for more. (paulcoady.com)
– Jeff Berkwits

Jason Aaron Coons debuts his confessional, heart-on-his-sleeve rock on a 10-track album called The Numbers. Delivered with sparkling production, JAC arranges guitars, piano, and a host of other tracked instruments that build into fully realized choruses, as on “Wild Wild Woman” and the ballad-like opener “Best Friend.” His breathy, earnest vocal style matches lyrical themes of heartache and loss found throughout the album with songs titles such as “I’m On The Outside” and the up-tempo “In Love With A Ghost.” (jasonaaroncoons.com)
– Jason Scales

In some respects, one could liken the music on Fletcher’s six-song EP, Open Arms, to that of Foals, with its penchant for higher fret guitar sound, as well as Vampire Weekend, for its occasional Afro-Caribbean beat sidebars. Unfortunately, Fletcher’s original material suffers from having neither of the other two chart climbers’ sophistication or élan. In the end, Open Arms earns the band a “meh” rating due to the album’s lack of “je ne sais quoi.” (reverbnation.com/Fletchertheband)
– David C. Eldredge

While “Good Morning” – the kickoff cut on Back To The Ache, the latest effort from The Heligoats – lulls the listener into a mellow mood, it’s a false sense of security. By the third number, “Drai Zich,” the energy begins to pick up, and after eight more tunes (plus a bonus track on the vinyl version), band founder Chris Otepka has firmly proven his songwriting prowess and stylistic range. Though not groundbreaking, it’s definitely worth a spin/stream/download. (theheligoats.com)
– Jeff Berkwits

We have fond recollections of Kevin Lee & Heartbeat in the pages of IE years ago, so it’s a pleasant surprise to have him resurface with new sidemen, The Kings, on Breakout, where he once again delivers the same solid guitar-charged power pop/rock à la Cheap Trick and other all-American Midwestern luminaries of the craft. One can quibble about Lee’s penchant for moon/croon/spoon lyrical reliance. But when he breaks out of the cliché trap – as on third cut “Gold Digger” – he and his crunchy guitar-wielding bandmates get close to stratospheric. (kevinleeonline.com)
– David C. Eldredge

Living Struggle is mostly your standard-issue punk rock four-piece, with a heavy nod to Bad Religion, on the seven-track album Never Fade Away. That’s not a bad thing. Someone’s got to fly the flag and this band does it with pride and solid rock chops. The thudding basslines, up-tempo power chords, and anthemic choruses of “Wild Hearts” and “I’d Give Anything” are sure to get fists pumping. Interestingly, outlaw country creeps into some arrangements, as on the melancholy “Beautiful Life” and on the ballad “Born To Love.” (myspace.com/livingstruggle)
– Jason Scales

The melodic songs that lead singer/guitarist David McMillin composed for the new Fort Frances release, Harbour, fit snugly within the current cluster of pastoral folk artists like Fleet Foxes. McMillin, whose heartfelt vocals bring a beguiling atmosphere to songs like “Truths I Used To Know” and “City By The Sea,” also taps into the hallowed tradition of Midwestern bands like Fire Town and The Insiders. Bassist Jeffrey Piper and drummer Aaron Kiser join McMillin for some lush harmonies. (fortfrancesmusic.com)
– Terrence Flamm

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