taking a listen
reviews of local & state music CDs
LAMB HANDLER — Jingle Jangle
Take one look at Charlotte natives Lamb Handler (www.myspace.com/lambhandler) and you might think that the crusty, slickedback look of singer Moe Lassiz hinted at equal parts Jimbo Mathis and Joe Buck, but aside from the frenetic, Southern punk pacing, that’s where the comparisons end. Lassiz’s distinctly un-twangy voice lends itself more to the aberrancy of ’90s grunge rock, while the band leaves the allusion of Deep South boogie in the occasional guitar solo on their second release Jingle Jangle. Even that fades in and out after “Old Country Music Saved the Day,” leaving only a straight-forward and hard rocking nucleus reminiscent of Eagles of Death Metal and Karma to Burn. With 16 tracks on Jingle Jangle, there’s nearly an hour of listening and not once does the band overlap itself with tedious filler. There’s something genuine to be found in every song. This is especially true of the affecting “Finding the Light,” where the band treads lightly into pop territory while still maintaining their edge. It might be poor form to say that one of the best songs on the album is a cover, but their driving take on Megadeth’s “Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?” is worth the sticker price by itself. Lamb Handler will play the Garage this Friday, October 23 at 10 p.m.
BRIGHTER DAYS — Love.Like.War
How exactly do you classify Greensboro band Brighter Days (www.myspace.com/brighterdaysnc) (formerly Hip-Hip-Hello)? Prog-pop might be an oxymoron in theory, but it’s the closest that you can come to describing the sound on their new EP Love.Like.War in just a couple of words. It’s a melting pot of styles, somehow rendered accessible by a strict adherence to catchy, melodic vocal and instrumental hooks. Never let it be said that this band is afraid to take chances, however, as the spate of electric guitar underpinned by the faint pluck of a mandolin on opener “Serenity” would argue. The turbulent tenor of singer Rett Lucas reminds of a somewhat less rangy version of the Mars Volta’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala and he’s featured heavily through the album’s eight tracks, though multi-instrumentalist Aslan Freeman is there to punch home the album’s emotive essence with his hard baritone. If there’s a knock against Love.Like.War, it’s that the narrow guitar range makes it harder to distinguish one track from the next after the EP’s first track, save for the idiosyncratic outros of “Fighting the Kraken” and “Mistress Overdone.” “The Milk Can” provides a desperately needed break in tempo before the title track falls back into the trap of tedium affecting a few other tracks. A cover of Lady GaGa’s “Just Dance” closes it out in timely fashion with an enjoyable bit of guilty pleasure, accenting the band’s inherently adventuresome nature. It does get a little boring at times, but the sheer enthusiasm of Brighter Days makes Love.Like.War a pretty enjoyable listen.
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