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Taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

Taking a listen The Five Ls — Missing Man Formation The latest EP Missing Man Formation by the Jamestown hardcore troupe the Five Ls (www.myspace.com/thefivels) is a bittersweet one to say the least. It’s been several years in the making and on one hand, represents a step forward for the band’s atmospheric, yet moody and highly emotional musical approach. But on the other, it also represents the final work of founding bassist Rodney Lee “Bo” Richards after his passing in September 2006, though he completed enough material to fill four of the EP’s five tracks. Eric Turner rounded out the rest with album’s opening track “Pencil,” a slightly repetitive track that intensifies from Buckethead-lite riffing to an aggressive power chord crunch. Richards’ influence on the band is indelibly pronounced through the rest of Missing Man Formation, with his heavy low-end licks providing the diesel to the Five L’s engine on “Samurai” and “Let Me Breathe.” There’s a marked formula to most of the album, with the final track “Can I Be Something New” (ironically) being the lone exception. The predictable pattern of subdued instrumental intro, followed by the wavering vocal melodies that eventually develop into impassioned shrieking of Brian Baldwin that becomes a tiring and downright irritating after a few listens. Call it the Linkin Park blueprint, if you will. It’s tough to distinguish one song from another until the final track, whose bridge melody resembles Mother Love Bone’s “Crown of Thorns” just a little too closely for my comfort. Pivot — 5 Days Raleigh Prog-rockers Pivot (www.pivotband.com) are back in the North Carolina music spotlight with 5 Days, the follow-up EP to the well-received 2006 release The Dream. They’ve established themselves as an act with fluid, aggressive musical chops and nothing has changed in that regard with 5 Days. The album opens with a sound snippet entitled “AM” that might be useful in rousing out of bed in the morning. It’s pleasant mix of birds chirping and light snoring are soon supplanted by the infuriating buzz of multiple alarm clocks blaring. If that’s not enough of a wake-up call, the ensuing track “Wayward Preacher” with its breakneck guitar rhythm should do the trick. The overall sound mix leaves a bit to be desired, however, with vocalist Brian Kelly and drummer Phil Cicco being slightly drowned out by the overpowering guitar work of lead Eric Hambright. Not entirely their fault, of course, though mixer Jamie King of Basement Recording is usually a bit more vigilant in that respect. Cicco’s technical skill is noteworthy all over the album, however, as he exhibits a wide range of influence from go-go to metal. Kelly’s voice and lyrics are reminiscent of the hey-day of ’80s acts such as Extreme and Queensrÿche in their thematically whimsical subject matter. It’s a rather gratifying effort overall for fans of hard music, yet sports enough melody to draw in those deterred by the ear-splitting screamo characteristic that pervades the genre these days.

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