Scary Cherry does glitter and garage, Dallas-style
Scary Cherry & the Bang Bangs (self-released)
With their deliciously raw mix of glitter rock and garage punk, you'd think Scary Cherry & the Bang Bangs would call the Big Apple home. Rather, the trio comprised of Scary Cherry, Tony Coke and Minx the Jinx hails from Dallas, and it does the Lone Star State proud on its rollicking “Girl” debut. The band spent six years touring and honing its sound and the result is this 12-track, R-rated gem. From the opening strains of “Don't Wanna” till the final notes of “Frankie 45,” Scary Cherry & the Bang Bangs never ease off the throttle. Keepers include the title track, “Get It Off,” “Crazy Jane,” “S.T.F.U.,” “Face” and “Anita 69.” Highly recommended.
Les Jupes (Head in the Sand)
I knew nothing about British indie rock band Les Jupes before the EP “Negative Space” came across my desk a few weeks back. After repeated spins of the four-track release, I tracked down 2011's “Modern Myths” and I assure you the quartet will remain on my radar from here on out. Mike Falk's rich baritone dominates the proceedings and he shines bright on “Save Your Friends,” “Hold Me Down” and “Interview With a Contract Killer.” This one's a winner.
‘Midnight in the Garden'
Lily Kershaw (Nettwerk)
With both songwriting chops and vocal skills usually associated with performers decades older, newcomer Lily Kershaw makes an impressive debut with “Midnight in the Garden.” The 22-year-old has had a pair of tunes (“As It Seems,” “Ashes Like Snow”) featured in the CBS series “Criminal Minds,” and this 13-track gem should make her a star. Kershaw hits the ground running with “Marlboro Man” and “Bathed in Blue,” and scores with the title track, “Better,” “Good Girl” and “Like the Sun.”
‘Promised Land Sound'
Promised Land Sound (Paradise of Bachelors)
Nashville-based newcomer Promised Land Sound brings a garage background to the band's country/rock sound and the results are fantastic on its self-titled debut. The band puts a modern spin on a style of music made famous by the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Band on this dynamite 11-song release, including an untitled hidden track. “The Storm” gets things off to a so-so start, but the fellas find their groove with a series of standouts that includes “Empty Vase,” “Make It Through the Fall,” “Understand,” “For His Soul” and “Fadin' Fast.” Good stuff.
‘Sparkle and Shine'
Jonny Kaplan & the Lazy Stars (Reckless Grace)
Los Angeles-based Americana rockers Jonny Kaplan & the Lazy Stars, ironically enough, have enjoyed better success overseas than in the U.S. With any luck, fourth full-length “Sparkle and Shine” will change all that. Kaplan is an estimable talent and he and the Lazy Stars have cobbled together an 11-track winner. From bluesy standout “Annalee Meets the Scorpion” to memorable entries “The Child Is Gone,” “I'll Be Around,” “Sweet Magnolia Flower” and “Always,” Kaplan & Co. don't miss a note.
‘The Things We Think We're Missing'
Balance and Composure (No Sleep)
Pennsylvania five-piece Balance and Composure earned praise from the critics for its 2011 “Separation” debut and looks to keep the momentum going with sophomore LP “The Things We Think We're Missing.” The bulk of the 13-track platter was recorded in a cabin in the Poconos. The band's emo hardcore sound seems a little dated (this album might have been all the rage in 2005), but Balance and Composure are good at what it does. “Parachutes,” “Back of Your Head,” “Tiny Raindrop,” “Ella” and “Reflection” merit some attention and make me think there might be a great album in these guys yet.
‘The Shape I'm In'
Marc Scibilia (Hickory)
Singer/songwriter Marc Scibilia mines similar musical turf as the likes of Edwin McCain on latest EP “The Shape I'm In.” It's a good but not great gathering of tunes from a guy who bears more than a passing resemblance to actor James Franco. The title track is the raspy highlight of the set, and Scibilia scores with “Shining Like America.” Remaining tunes “Bad Boys” and “Finally” aren't bad, but they aren't especially memorable, either.
This Frontier Needs Heroes (self-released)
Having earned lots of praise for its first two albums of stripped down alternative folk, This Frontier Needs Heroes (Brad and Jessica Lauretti) wasn't content to rest on its laurels. Eight-track gem “Hooky” is its first with a full backing band and should have mainstream appeal. The fantastic title track sets the tone, and the duo soars on “George Clooney,” “It's Over Now,” “Now Is the Time” and “She's Gonna Be a Lot of Trouble.” Seek out this band.
Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952, or firstname.lastname@example.org.