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Around Hear: February 2014

BurnsideHooker1

They may have chosen some Union Army generals from which to draw their name, but the music of Burnside & Hooker has more contemporary similarities to The Civil Wars. These former Counting 10 members have drafted vocalist Rachel Bonacquisti to march them through this self-titled, 10-song effort and an inspired choice she was. She moans like PJ Harvey, crackles with speakeasy sass, and can belt big, brassy notes when called upon. Her contribution gives the rank-and-file Americana a heavy dose of personality, though maybe on their next outing B&H should open up a second front. (facebook.com/burnsideandhooker)
– Steve Forstneger

The members of Blood Red Boots may look like fresh faces, but the modern rockers already notched a slot on Vans Warped Tour, Milwaukee’s Summerfest and headlined Metro. The group’s self-titled EP falls somewhere in between the rhythmically-charged sounds of New Politics and the ultra-melodic Rooney, while also benefiting from some muscular production by Manny Sanchez (Smashing Pumpkins, Fall Out Boy). (www.bloodredboots.com)
– Andy Argyrakis

Since 2009, Lakesigns dropped two EPs and two LPs, the latest being the full-length indie rocker Husk. Though the lo-fi and fairly raw collection sounds like it came straight out of the basement, the foursome still excels with contagious craftsmanship and uses the saxophone as its secret weapon to make melancholy subject matter sound a little bit sweeter. (www.lakesignsmusic.com)
– Andy Argyrakis

Jordan Macarus is like the Energizer Bunny of the local scene: over the past 30 years, both solo and as a member of myriad bands, he’s released countless recordings. For his current outing he’s teamed with Kevin Ashford Jr. and Isaiah Webb, and the trio, performing as JKI, pump out 16 jazz-infused rock melodies on the robust but overlong Truce Vol. 1. It’s not Macarus’s best work, but his guitar and vocal chops, especially on “Christine,” ensure it’s respectable. (jki.jordanmacarus.com)
– Jeff Berkwits

Taking cues from Muse and all the bombastic bands that followed in its footsteps, Molehill’s full-length project Equinox unfolds as a series of epic experiments. Expect no shortage of towering solos or arena-filling vocals, along with a few hints of self-indulgence, though there’s not enough wandering to negate members’ obvious chemistry when it comes to constructing grand anthems. (www.molehillmusic.com)
– Andy Argyrakis

It’s possible So Many Ways threw some guitars on the cover of their EP so as not to confuse fans of The Braxtons, but the image is also a perfect metaphor for what’s within. Simply, you can’t miss the blinding fretwork on these six tracks. Notes swarm the Ways’ thumping screamo to the point where you can’t recall a melody or a chorus but you’ll walk away metal thrashing mad (or swatting at your ears as if having walked through a cloud of gnats). (somanyways.bandcamp.com)
– Steve Forstneger

If only Scott Sakurada had let someone else handle the vocals, the 10 cuts on Be My Girlfriend – which was apparently issued in 2003 but just re-released – might have been bearable. Alas, his unfortunately tuneless voice, especially on “Tracy Ann” and “I’m Thinking Of You,” makes this pop-rock excursion downright disappointing. The advice may be a decade too late, but next time please, in the words of Joe Perry, let the music do the talking. (www.cdbaby.com/sakurada3)
– Jeff Berkwits

 

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