Taking a Listen: Local CD reviews

by Heather MacIntyre

Secondhand Serenade – A Twist In My Story

So every generation needs its version of Dashboard Confessional. However, the volume of critics comparing John Vesely to such a modern-pop heartache pioneer like Chris Carrabba just isn’t fair. The vocals of the album may be projected like Carrabba but, sound-wise, seem a lot like an attempted rip-off of an earlier Yellowcard (minus the talent and strings). There are a few radio-friendly tracks, but the majority of it shouts – and I’m hesitant to say this word, as I haven’t even heard it used in half a decade: emo. The appearance, presentation and lyrics that seem whispered and strained every few lines aren’t really worth your time unless you live for this genre. As a whole, the album just doesn’t have anything new to offer that you can’t get from any other pop-ballad based singer-songwriter in the last few years. Glassnote Records did put a lot of money into this artist’s sophomore album, so the sound quality is rich and first-class. Aside from that, the production is the only quality thing about these tracks. Perhaps, his live performance is a little more worthwhile. Report back if you go to his show on July 23 at Amos’ South End in Charlotte.

Rating: 2 records (out of 5)

Hammer No More the Fingers – Hammer No More the Fingers

Just an EP of what’s yet to come in October with their full-length release on Power Team Records. I know, I know. Heather is writing about another indie-pop band. She just can’t get over the scratchy throat and under-produced catchy tunes of the modern hipster heart. Hey! Actually, this EP really sets up a lot of promise to follow through with this fall. Hammer No More The Fingers originated from Durham as early as 1994. I know I might be breaking rules in this comparison, but the verses in “Mushroom” are catchy and possess a certain tongue-song twang like that of the debatably-talented Hot Hot Heat. Most new albums you have to listen a few times to let it “grow on you”. Wait for it… wait for it… now. Oh wow, now it’s good (now that you know it line for line). But, familiarity doesn’t build up the hype for this band. With a very popular live show and a strong local following, the recordings also follow suit. The poppy drumming and tight rhythm guitar really set a delightful rock mood that leaves you thinking about old-school indie-pop like Superchunk… that is, if Mac had ever finished going through puberty. Next triad appearance: Elliot’s Revue in Winston-Salem on June 6.

Rating: 3.5 records (out of 5)