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Around Hear May 2009 (2)

| May 4, 2009


Dave Ero is an imaginative musician who employs vaudeville, Latin, blues, pop, and folk to back the offbeat songs on Nuns With Guns. But much of his work is undone by forced rhymes, awkward phrasing, and the misguided belief that cheesy vocals are always hysterical. It would be interesting to hear Ero when he wasn’t straining to be funny. (

Terrence Flamm

Andreas Kapsalis Trio‘s Original Scores is rife with cinematic, soundtrack-ready compositions. Given Kapsalis’ experience working on film scores, his sonics on steel- and nylon-string guitars are naturally dramatic. With the help of percussionists Jamie Gallagher and Darren Garvey, this trio taps into multiple moods. While atmospheric, songs like the circus-inspired “Strangers To Fellini” are a bit too bizarre to be enjoyed on their own. But the festive feel of the Latin-fused “Ethnic Cleansing” and other numbers sound good as is. (

Max Herman

Meyhew The Traitor subscribes to the Johnny Cash/Neil Young philosophies of folk rock: no frills, yet solid musicianship evoking melancholy and “man in black” mysteriousness. “Shakin’ With John Wayne” and “See You In Hell” set the chiming guitar precedent. “Deathwish,” the 10-song CD’s title track, ruminates on poor choices made in life behind jangling chords and is followed later by the most haunting track, the stripped-down funeral ballad, “Lottie.” (

Jason Scales

On Patience Gloria‘s About A Girl, Charles Malave sings the lyrics of Michael Dobbins (think Elton John/Bernie Taupin). Though the words are pensive and poetic (especially throughout “Fall Down The Stairs” and “Dust Specs”), the delivery is disappointing across the album. As if Malave struggling to stay in key isn’t bad enough, the low-budget production is riddled with chaotic sound effects and a too-obnoxious-to-be-cool quirkiness. (

Andy Argyrakis


Trio Pillars And Tongues keeps things minimal on Protection: a repetitive bowing of strings overlaid by organ/melodica/harmonica, occasionally interrupted by vocal aphorisms and further sparingly counterpointed by assorted guests. What at first seem like freeform, post-new-age/avant-classical jams eventually (at 14-plus minutes in three of four cases) reveal their circular, compositional heart. A fairly challenging listen, the jazzier, more conventionally melodic second cut “Dead Sings” is probably closest to being accessible. (

David C. Eldredge

The Quilts uses several musical styles on its latest, Turn The Love On, but excels at Southern-rock barn burners like “Kingston Tennessee” and “Let It Rain.” Singer/guitarist Dana Okon strives for a positive message on each song though it’s not always easy to catch his drift. Nevertheless, the guy is incapable of composing a dull melody, as evidenced by irresistible songs like the new wave-flavored “Skeleton Colors” and the Kinks-influenced “Beethoven.” (www.myspace/thequilts)

Terrence Flamm

Born from the ashes of the late Rabble Rousers, Swing Out Chicago is a somewhat derivative, but feverishly passionate take at Chicago blues and Memphis-inspired R&B (“Swing Out Chicago”) from the Windy City Rev-Ups. Vocalist Rich Reminger and his band perform over 100 dates a year around the Midwest, and it shows in their plier-tight arrangements, guttural vocals and their hypnotic jonesing for the blues. A musical detour into acoustic-driven Southern rock (“Red, White & Blues”) only enhances their allure. (

David Gedge

Section4 singer Serena Romero may be a vocal dead-ringer for Portishead frontwoman Beth Gibbons, but that doesn’t mean the material found within the group’s self-titled disc is even close. Tunes like “Pretend” and “Sunday Song” may be pleasant trip-hop tunes, while “Showroom Party” presents the group’s gritter, alt-rock aura, but they all lack memorable appeal. (

Andy Argyrakis

Between brief opening/closing instrumentals, The Webstirs serves up another collection of excellently produced two-to-three-minute jaunty pop originals. The band’s fourth CD, So Long, again achieves an excellent sonic balance between basic rock-quartet and supporting-brass sidemen and synth overlays, with the group reaching its apogee on the jangly, richly produced, and Hold Steady-ish penultimate cut, “Still Drowning.” (

David C. Eldredge

Zip Tang adds to the prog-rock resurgence with the 11-track Pank. The title track is a buzzing jazz-rock instrumental, and the only one less than four minutes. The remaining songs give plenty of room for musical tooling around. After a rollicking first movement, the eight-minute-plus “It’s In My Head” forges a dreamy saxophone freak-out eventually accompanied by guitar moans and squeals. “Katy” adds to the sax-driven fusion with the repeated “Katy won’t leave home” used as a bridge to eventual funk-guitar stylings. (

Jason Scales

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