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Reviews for the easily distracted

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Melissa Bryan

Return of the Woman

Rock Haus Records

3½ Stars

 

Riffing: This girl's hittin' it for sainthood, working a real-world gig advocating for victims of domestic violence. She was weaned on Leif Garrett, girlish fright wigs and teen-boy power riffs. 

 

Reference points: Best line ever: "Street walkin' cheater"! 

 

If you like: Overcoming overwhelming physical odds for song, the Muffs, Girls Rock Camp, Best Coast, the Zeros, girl-groups, Lou Reed's "Rock 'n' Roll," Dead Boys and bronoodlin'! ...   

Falling in Reverse

The Drug in Me is You

Epitaph

½ Stars

Riffing: AutoTune bombast rock led by joyless chirper Ronnie Radke, the Nikki Sixx-coifed ex-con (boring: drugs, parole violation; fucked up: battery charges, outer-circle involvement in some kid's murder), once of Escape the Fate. 

 

Reference Points: Kohl-eyed dudes who like jock sports. White noise power-chording and ersatz emotional responses that summon images of Vegas suburbia, Warped Tour day-drunks and Hot Topic closeouts. Nice.

 

If You Like: What old Sixx would sound like if he were 25 years younger

Smoking Popes

This is Only a Test

Asian Man Records

4½ Stars

Riffing: Johnny Ramone-y downstrokes buffer a croon that's not unlike Gene Clark (!?) or Morrissey. 

 

Reference Points: Sad as snow-covered bicycles and late-night train whistles but snaps and pops like banana bubblegum in the maw of a moody high school cheerleader. 

 

If You Like: Teary-eyed punk, pre-'79 Cheap Trick 45s, suburban outsider melancholy, Akaline Trio, balding dudes and bittersweet melodies over Buzzcockian riffola. Also, Herculean indie comebacks and the Clash's "Stay Free." 

Gabe Dixon

One Spark

Fantasy

2 Stars

 

Riffing: Light, untroubled piano-guitar pop for Starbucks moms and dads whose college dorm rooms stocked Crowded House and Everything but the Girl albums. But if "Even the Rain" gets featured in a hybrid car TV ad, it'll still be a beautiful song. 

 

Reference Points: Dixon's absolutely in love with his wife and he's man enough to sing about it. 

 

If You Like: Alison Krauss, Dylan's kid, pre-fat Paul Simon, fat-era Elton John. 

 

NRBQ

Keep This Love Goin'

Clang

3 Stars

Riffs: "Here I Am" is early Beatle beauty, "Boozoo and Leona" a hit in a proper world, "The Animal Life" is pure power pop. 

 

Reference Points: The most respected band in the world that never sold any records; storied history now finds original piano man Terry Adams still standing. 

 

If You Like: Earlier NRBQ, rock shows with a lawn for sitting, Weezer, Sky, Brendan Benson, Brinsley Schwarz, Big Star, Dave Edmonds. Music no one can make anymore.

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