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CLAY Dragon Evolved


While not clever at album titles (his last disc was 2002’s The Dragon Lies Sleeping, so the next will be ... Return of the Son of the Dragon? Daryl Dragon?), Salt Lake City’s singularly monikered Clay has another adult-pop winner in Dragon Evolved. Influences from the Beatles to Jeff Buckley are right up front and shiny, delivered by a self-assured singer-songwriter who already sounds like a major-label player no matter what the indie packaging says. No new stylistic ground broken but, it all goes down so sweetly, why hold it against Clay for building a pop-perfect dessert? (ClayMusic.com)


RYAN SHUPE & THE RUBBERBAND Hey Hey Hey


Warning: Bluegrass and country purists who didn’t think shreddin’ Shupe and his RubberBand could go any more mainstream are really going to resent Hey Hey Hey, an all-too-credible stab at the Dave Matthews eclecti-pop market, slicked by hotshot production. Some songs have appeared on previous RS& B albums (like the insanely catchy “Banjo Boy”), but HHH is more of a career-positioning statement, a sure-footed balance between chops and pop looking for a home on MTV and CMT. (Shupe.net)


GIFT ANON Lazy Bones


Shoegaze-y to the point of staring through the floor into the apartment downstairs, Provo’s Gift Anon nevertheless craft sticky melodies that rise to and above their self-imposed indie-emo trappings. The drone-jangle-rinse-repeat slocore cycles are occasionally shaken up with space-rock epiphanies (“Smoke & Mirrors”) and subliminal Radiohead funk (“Lookout Below,” “I Made This”), but Lazy Bones as a whole is a warm skim-milk bath with few distractions or pretensions. (GiftAnon.com)


A.VANVRANKEN Shift


Anthony VanVranken describes his music—with appropriate efficiency—as “minimal ambient electronic with beats,” programmed instrumental suites with one-word names and little human interface. Electronica’s not an easy genre to coax warmth or personality from, but AVV’s 15-cut Shift actually breathes and flows with surprising vibrancy, like a cyborg DJ discovering his own blood. Most tracks are clinically clean, making static-dirty deviations like the title cut stand out even more—highly recommended for cubicle farmers. (Xmission.com/~funguss)


MEDICINE CIRCUS Content


Increasingly Brit-poppy with each release, SLC’s Medicine Circus have hit a psychedelic sweet spot with Content—now, does anyone know if they’re still around? On his third CD, singer-guitarist Christopher Stearman dials down the amps and pushes the vocals and hyper-melodies to the forefront, landing on a grassy knoll somewhere between the Dandy Warhols and circa-’68 Deep Purple. From the opening anthem “Good Idea” (“Everyone knows Jesus was a good idea/That didn’t quite turn out right”) to the finale, there’s no dead wood.

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