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Crosby shows off on 'Pillow'

| Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

‘Save That Pillow'

Caitlin Crosby (Deep Well)

★★★12

Singer-songwriter Caitlin Crosby earned her show biz stripes as a television actress (“Malcolm in the Middle,” “That's So Raven,” “That '70s Show,” “Seventh Heaven”) before branching off into music. She dropped a respectable debut album, “Flawz,” in 2009 and takes things up a notch on new EP “Save That Pillow.” Crosby shows off her piano and guitar skills on the seven-track release, which features a handful of standout tunes in “Boy in the Benz,” “Gasoline,” “Is This the Good Life?”, the title track and “Cracked Me Open.” If she continues to evolve as a musician, big things are in store for Crosby.

‘I Won't Hold This Against You'

Light Years (Paper+Plastick/Black Numbers)

★★★12

After a pair of momentum-building EPs, Cleveland pop/punk quartet Light Years make their full-length debut with the rock-solid “I Won't Hold This Against You.” Many are quick to sound the death knell for the pop/punk genre, but those calls are premature as long as exciting bands like this are plying their trade. Light Years don't bring anything different to the party, but songs like “Parking Lots,” “Put Myself Together,” “Throwing My Life,” “Hindsight” and “The War Inside My Head” are a heck of a lot of fun. Rock on, fellas.

‘The Sidelines'

Born Cages (Razor & Tie)

★★★12

New York indie rock outfit Born Cages started climbing the career ladder a couple years ago and have a pair of quality EPs (including “The Sidelines”) to their credit, along with support gigs for the likes of Guns N' Roses, Gold Fields and Ludo. This five-track release further whets the appetite for more from Born Cages, as the lads serve up a swaggering gem of a record. The opening salvo of “Don't Look Back” and “Caiti” sets the tone, and the guys score with “Perfect Harmony.” Remaining tunes “Metaphor” and “Cover My Band's Song” aren't as effective, but there's no denying that Born Cages are on the rise.

‘Stomp' & ‘Stroll'

Big D & the Kids Table (self-released)

★★★12 & ★★★★

Though they've been delivering their take on ska-punk quite effectively for almost two decades, Boston-based collective Big D & the Kids Table remain anonymous to casual music fans. They've capitalized on the KickStarter craze of fan-funded projects to raise enough money to release two brand-new albums in “Stomp” and “Stroll.” The former is a fairly familiar ska-punk effort, while the latter is more interesting with its stroll-reggae vibe. “Stomp” features a handful of standout tunes in “Stepping Out,” “Social Muckary,” “Pinball,” “The Noise” and “No Moaning at the Bar,” while the more eclectic “Stroll” boasts keepers “Knife,” “Young Suckers,” “Main Squeeze,” “Spit That Champagne Out,” “Moment of Weakness” and “Drink Me Down.”

‘The Way of Things'

Matthew J. Tow (Xenu)

★★★★

After two decades fronting acclaimed Aussie bands like Drop City and the Lovetones, singer/songwriter Matthew J. Tow steps out on his own for U.S. solo debut “The Way of Things.” The nine-track release requires a little patience — especially with sprawling opener “Night & Day,” a cosmic jam that unfurls over the course of almost 12 minutes — but those who stick around will be rewarded with a fantastic indie rock album. Standout tracks include “It's Gonna Be Alright,” “When I Get to Sydney,” “Seven Days” and “Just Got Back.” Good stuff.

‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here'

Alice in Chains (Capitol)

★★★

Many people (myself included) figured that one-time grunge greats Alice in Chains were history when lead singer Lane Staley died of a drug overdose in 2002. But the remaining members surprised with 2009's comeback, “Black Gives Way to Blue,” featuring vocals from guitarist Jerry Cantrell and Staley stand-in William DuVall. They serve up more of the same on “The Devil Put the Dinosaurs Here,” a solid (if unspectacular) effort that sounds a lot like its predecessor. But where “Black Gives Way to Blue” was a pleasant surprise, this is merely a listenable gathering of 12 songs. There are some nice moments — “Pretty Done,” “Stone,” the title track, “Scalpel” and “Phantom Limb” — but it makes me long for the Alice in Chains of the early 1990s.

Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952 or jsisk@tribweb.com.

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