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Around Hear Page 3

| July 30, 2007

O’Neill And Wean are so syrupy with their acoustic, barstool wisdom, but they’re also tricky, convoluted popsters. The You Are Beautiful EP plunges through the sweet of the heart while mining for bile. “I Found Out” spits deranged eulogies for the still-breathing: “We’ll be dead,” cries lead singer Billy O’Neill (oh my god) before “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)” takes over. The minor-chorded “Breakdown” is more resigned than the lot. With depressed vocals free of contrary elation, O’Neill is a ringer for early Elliott Smith. (
– Mike Meyer

Hailing from the small town of Crete, alt-rock outfit Pandora are definitely a musical box worth opening, thanks to the strong vocals of Jessica Lubrera. While it’s tempting to make obvious comparisons to Flyleaf and Evanescence, Pandora is neither as in-your-face as the former or as ethereal and anthemic as the latter. Instead, they choose to create their own mystical, emotional sound. The boys lay down thick layers of heavy bass and guitar, while Lubrera lets her heartfelt melodies wash over them. (
– Carter Moss

Earnest, touching, and world-weary far beyond his mere 22 years, Joe Pug often recalls early Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan on his self-released, simply titled Five Music Songs. From heartbreaking ballads like “In The Meantime” to the fable-like “Motel 6 Blues” to the obligatory protest number, “I Do My Father’s Drugs,” Pug exhibits a thoughtfulness and social consciousness that’s rare in singer-songwriters more than twice his age, and a talent that’s even rarer. (
– Dean Ramos

Opening cut “Push Me” – a frenetic sex song if ever there was – gets The Sapiens‘ second EP off to a promising start. Much as one wants to enjoy the band’s vibrant urgency, all phrasing gets thrown out the window as incessantly garbled vocals make the songs pretty indecipherable. This just might be a good thing, given the increasing mundanity of the printed lyrics themselves, except they reach a new low in the relatively decipherable dregs of closing cut “Waitress, Waitress.” (
– David Eldredge


She’s Your Sister creates an intriguing power pop/hard rock hybrid on its second effort, Onetwothreefour. The irresistible melody of “Pixie Led” is augmented by harmonies from singer/guitarist Joel Whitley and bassist/singer Jenn Johnson. Whitley, a powerhouse vocalist who soars on “Sweet Sorrow,” also joins guitarist Theo Dimitriou for some frenetic strumming on “Greener.” Job Springer’s thundering drums are another reason to embrace this quartet. (
– Terrence Flamm

Sherm explores dark themes and even darker guitar-distortion effects on its six-song At 24 Frames Per Second. The tracks are mostly instrumental and often experimental metal (note the tortured screams and random percussion sounds on “Night Of Anubis”). “Suffer After Dark” is dead-on early Black Sabbath, with its repetitious riffage and slow-burn tempo interrupted by a couple of manic guitar moments and weakly growled lyrics. Other rare vocals are more effective on “It’s Tomorrow, And You’re Dead.” (
– Jason Scales

Singer/guitarist State Champion (aka Ryan Davis) offers stream-of-consciousness lyrics set to acoustic arrangements on his lo-fi Light Blues. The songs sometimes lapse into self-indulgence, but State Champion’s offbeat observations can be funny, especially the sexual escapades of “Bridgeton” or the energetic “Cold Morning,” on which he proclaims, “I’ve been up all night thinking bad stuff.” (
– Terrence Flamm

Third Coast surfers The Trashingtons seem a little uneasy about making big waves. For that, we could blame Lake Michigan. The three-piece pile so much reverb and Southern impersonation on their 10-song demo that even clean-channel riffs sound murky. “Astro” and “Pickin’ Meats” drown in cheese and effect. Further in, the tremolo picking of “Last Call” drops antics for unabashed glee. And “Mt. Riffmore” erupts into an instrumental beach party, which the band should champion. (
– Mike Meyer

Daphne Willis deploys her trilling voice and folksy acoustic guitar to create slick pop songs on her EP, Matter Of Time. “What’s It Gonna Be?” is a crisp, catchy track. Though her voice is a touch piercing on the upper registers on “No Difference,” her sprightly, delicate guitar and the stirring melody make for a quietly affecting pop ballad. Her lyrics aren’t the smartest, but more importantly, she carefully avoids banality and triviality, leaving her winsome songs intact. (
– Patrick Conlan

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