Music News

Moovers and Shakers

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Love.45, Love.45 (Rock Ridge). So you say Love.45 is radio-friendly and derivative. Tell us something we don't know. If you listen to Love.45 in its entirety, though, there's no denying that this act has a knack for crafting polished power pop (key word in that descriptor: pop -- you know, a derivative of the word popular), and it's been rewarded accordingly. -- Herrera

Matson Jones, Matson Jones (Self-released). The most unique act to emerge in years, Matson Jones redefines the definition of original music as it stuffs chamber orchestration into a loose-fitting indie-rock girdle. Although this inaugural release doesn't quite capture the kinetic energy of the band's live show, it's an apt introduction and a great listen. -- Herrera

Munly & the Lee Lewis Harlots, Munly & the Lee Lewis Harlots (Alternative Tentacles/ Smooch). Jay Munly presents fifteen gothic chestnuts (captured in Dolby Surround Sound with DVD extras) that feature grandiose string arrangements and stunning vocal harlotry -- including a stellar doo-wop number. Dark, elegant, and utterly original, Munly and company's masterpiece dives headlong into the ninth circle of Hell, aided by homemade liquor and antebellum undergarments. -- La Briola

Mustangs and Madras, Mustangs and Madras (As Is Recordings). Emo's not dead; it's just been really boring and unlistenable since '97. Enter Mustangs and Madras, whose latest platter is a throwback to the Sunny Days before screamo, when Kids used to actually Get Up and rock. Though, back then, nobody could play sax like Nick Krier -- or even thought to, for that matter. -- Herrera

Orbit Service, Twilight (Helmetroom Recordings). Spiraling through a narcodelic haze of electronic mind expansion, Orbit Service steers this brilliant followup to Space & Valium through deeper cosmic stratospheres. Equal parts acoustic dream journal and conceptual dirge, this down-tempo epic makes living on a dying planet seem tolerable. But if space is the final frontier, these guys have a major jump on NASA. -- La Briola

Open Road, ...In the Life (Rounder). At its core, bluegrass is primitive music: raw and plainspoken, but with a structural rigor that requires those who play it to have uncommonly quick fingers. The men of Open Road certainly share the latter characteristic, and because they balance faithfulness to the form with sheer exuberance, their latest disc is richly satisfying from start to finish. Oh, what a Life. -- Roberts

The Pirate Sygnl, Norma(l): Hugh Manchild's American Revolution(s) (Axumite Recordings). Bdbeyond and Yonnas, who dominate the programming on this particular Sygnl, aren't interested in restricting their rhymes to cliched hip-hop subject matter: Bling isn't their thing. Instead, they plunge into topics that deserve deeper examination, mating astringent verses with music by the likes of DJ Psycho that takes the idea of freshness seriously. Norma(l) isn't, and thank goodness. -- Roberts

Planes Mistaken for Stars, Up in Them Guts (No Idea). Planes finally found what it's been trying for all along: a little tenderness. The album's spectral opening ballad and poignant lyrics have deepened its visceral rock/hardcore hybrid. But listen to Gared O'Donnell burn his lips on the line, "My mother bleeds history" and not even the caress of acoustic guitars can pacify the nightmares. -- Heller

Tyler Potts, Selections From 52 Songs (Self-released). Potts' concept -- composing one tune a week for a year -- would be as dull as the top of Jesse Ventura's head if the material was weak. It's a relief, then, that his swatches of sound are a fascinating blend of homemade craft and electronic futurism. Selections is a sample of the work as a whole, and it's already given rise to a sequel, entitled Drift, that's just as worthy as the original effort. Check out to learn more about this inspired project. -- Roberts

The Reals, Majestic (Self-released). All too often, roots music stays at ground level instead of seeking the sun. Not so the cuts that make up Majestic, a disc strong and sturdy enough to weather any season. Siblings Matt and Cheyenne Kowal create songs whose classic arrangements and traditional instrumentation bloom anew due to the quiet fervor of their performances, and prose that's literary without seeming self-important. -- Roberts

Red Cloud, Red Cloud (Not Bad World Industries). Nebraskan Ross Etherton fronts this slow-loping four-piece (which also includes Westword scribe Jason Heller on guitar) with a soft baritone drawl that approximates Mike Watt dragging Crazy Horse through a town with no name. At once desolate and scorching, this is dry-gulch roots rock that creaks the floorboards, cuts to the bone and leaves an ache in the heart. -- La Briola

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