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 Oct 14 - 20, 2010 

Sonic Reducer

The Rebel Set Poison Arrow (Silver Hornet Records)

This trio hails from Phoenix, which may be one of those secret cool cities most people don’t know about. Poison Arrow is one big tambourine-smashing dance party. Frenzied maracas rattle in the background on several tracks and surf guitar is prominent throughout, but there’s also a hefty helping of garage rock. Recording in analog increases the vintage sound. Guitarist/vocalist Joe Zimmerman has a high, sharp voice, making the lyrics sound mean and snotty—in a good way. By track 5 you might be thinking, Hey, all these songs sound kinda the same. But that’s OK—they sound awesome.

Tumbledown Empty Bottle (End Sounds)

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Mike Herrera, vocalist and bassist from pop-punk band MxPx, brings the same aesthetic to his country-punk band. Youthful rebellion simmers beneath every track. As the album name implies, 75 percent of the songs are in some way about booze. Other themes include drugs and “gettin’ out.” The musicians are solid, notably Herrera on guitar and Marshall Trotland on standup bass. The lyrics aren’t inventive, but Herrera sings with sincerity. “Arrested in El Paso Blues” definitely stirs the desire to chuck a beer can out of a car window. If you’re in a “fuck the man” mood, enjoy this album.

The Bright Light Social Hour The Bright Light Social Hour (myspace.com/thebrightlightsocialhour)

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The opening track, “Shanty,” started and I thought maybe I put in a Foghat album by mistake. The song sounds distinctly like road rock of the ’70s. But wait, here comes an ’80s dance vibe. Holy smokes! The next song is hand-clapping, chanting indie-pop. Third track: psychedelic dub. What is this? “Detroit” is, fittingly, Motown-style soul. “Men of the Earth” is absolute instrumental shoegaze. Although these Austin rockers don’t stick to one genre, the ’70s Southern rock element continually surfaces throughout, lending some cohesion. It’s weird but the musicians are talented and every surprising track turns out to be catchy.

 
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