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STARMY Black Shine


Far more shiny than black, Starmy’s Black Shine is the sound of five local dudes standing up and saying, “Yeah, we wanna be rock stars—got a problem?” The disc rages through three rockers designed to rattle beers off the front of a stage before dropping the positively poptastic “Don’t Look Back,” the sweet toe-tapper Rooney couldn’t write. The rest is an urgent garage-party tussle, snarling guitars vs. Doors-y keyboards vs. cool-hand vox, all polished to a spiffy (here comes the “C” word) commercial sheen that still captures that live Starmy charm. (GoStarmy.com)


JEBU Phase 4


Most genre-blending acts beat you over the head with their diversified portfolios; Ogden’s Jebu slip ’em by on the sultry down-low. Singer-guitarist Jed Keipp makes like a more mischevious Jack Johnson, crooning over roadhouse rock (“Get With Me”), trippy breakbeats (“Slip Short”), dub reggae (“Chug Chug/On a Run”), jazz, funk, blues and folk, rarely rising above a whisper and deploying enough wah-wah pedal saturation to fuel a dozen Shaft sequels. Phases 1-3 were apparently well worth it. (JebuMusic.com)

PAYNE/RAYBACK Xoi


Do 10 half-titled tracks of Joshua Payne (guitar) and Geoffrey Rayback (upright bass) scraping out eerie, hypnotic noises on their respective instruments qualify as music? Or even jazz? (Just kidding; hold the letters.) Melody and form do phase in and out of focus, not unlike an aural Magic Eye stereogram, as long as you don’t go looking and just wait for “it” to happen. Xoi is ambient and engaging, therefore musical. Clear? (HibiscusZombie.com)


KALAI Rebel Hands


Sounding twice his 23 years, singer-guitarist Kalai’s expressive fingerstyle chops, falsetto wail and seamless meld of Delta blues and exotic melodies either comes across like a lighter Ben Harper or Dave Matthews with a pulse. The 15-cut Rebel Hands (his third release) holds up under its hour running time, despite little deviation from voice/guitar sparseness and an overall sense of cozy dynamic restraint—guy could stand to cut loose a little more, as on the rollicking title song. (Kalai.cc)


CURIOUS BIRDS The Wheel Turns


The disc opens with a nearly seven-minute song utilizing the instrumentation of vocals, guitars and up-in-the-mix rain—Art with a capital “A” lies ahead. Singer-songwriter Raven Ariana’s delicate vocals and hippie lyricism are balanced by the countrified twang of Scott Simon’s guitars and Aspen Moon’s lively bass lines, and mucho underlying humor doesn’t hurt, either: The Wheel Turns closes with the erotic sounds of Sandhill cranes getting’ it on in the wild—now that’s Art. (ShapeShifting.com)

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