Pearls and Brass The Indian Tower (Drag City Inc.)
For those who like a little moonshine with their weed, Pearls and Brass offer up some good ol' fashioned hillbilly-stoner-rock. Drawing on Zeppelin and Stevie Ray Vaughan for their riff-heavy sound, this Nazareth, Penn., trio has released an album that's a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll and, frankly, a little bit obnoxious. Their relentless toying with time signatures is admirable at first, cute after a while and downright unpleasant by the end. Pearls and Brass deserve credit for their relatively unique slant on stoner rock, but I sincerely hope their haphazard approach doesn't catch on.
The Junior Varsity Wide Eyed (Victory Records)
Wide Eyed is the type of unmistakable emo-punk that is impossible to listen to without imagining the shrieks of dozens of overzealous tweens of the female persuasion. These aforementioned young ladies will be tickled pink by The Junior Varsity's latest release, while the rest of us can appreciate the involved guitar licks and contagious hooks. Differentiating between the songs is no simple task, however, and even after a half-dozen listenings, "Get Comfortable" is the only track that isn't as forgettable as it is catchy. This would make a lovely Valentine's Day present for your prepubescent sweetheart.
Elefant The Black Magic Show (Hollywood Records)
It's impossible to listen to Elefant's The Black Magic Show without adopting an aura of smugness. Putting aside the fact that staring at lead singer/model look-alike Diego Garcia's emaciated face makes me feel fat (I'm 5'8” and a slender 130 pounds). The over-the-top new wave '80s rock that Garcia's band creates is poppy, full of itself and certainly not without its art house charm. The album could do without tracks like the never ending "Don't Wait," but Elefant's retro-grooves and Garcia's flair for the dramatic (à la David Bowie) make The Black Magic Show a more than halfway decent release.