· THE HINGES — UNHINGED
With Unhinged, the first release featuring its current lineup, The Hinges unveil four songs of late-night Rock & Soul. The adaptable band plays shows as both an acoustic trio and full-on five-piece Rock band; this EP features the latter version. With vocals that possess the raspy soul of Paul Westerberg and Greg Dulli, The Hinges use serpentine chord progressions (also a characteristic shared with Mr. Dulli) to draw listeners in, augmented by impulsive melodies and cool, echoing guitar leads. On "Drop Anchor," the minor-key guitars intertwine intriguingly, like streams of candle wax dripping together, while the beer-wisdom nugget "Another One" has some of the rootsy power of Buffalo Tom. There's a loose swagger to the recording (which was done mostly live), and that goes well with the "boozing philosopher" vibe of the lyrics, but there are also a few rhythmic hiccups that take away from the listening experience. The main hindrances are the "percussion" additives. While bongos might work in an acoustic setting, here their baffling prevalence adds an awkward clumsiness to the proceedings. It's one thing to add some interesting rhythmic textures to bubble underneath, but on Unhinged the percussive supplements are as loud as the drums and guitars, taking away from what is otherwise a fine, if somewhat redundant, sampler. The Hinges have solid songwriting and performance skills; if they would have left the bongos at the campfire, that would have shined through much more clearly. The Hinges celebrate the release of Unhinged Saturday at Covington's Mad Hatter with guests The Stapletons, Pike and The Minni-Thins.
(Mike Breen) Grade: C+
· THE PROPER AUTHORITIES — PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
Among the explosion of "one-man bands" that technology has made possible, the usual common thread is a lo-fi sound or at the very least an intimate feel. Keith Adams is having none of that. With Public Service Announcement, the veteran of local Techno-Rock faves Sound Mind (and more recently Power Pop trio Giant Wow) has made an album that celebrates the view from his corner of the music world, which is danceable, hard-hitting, eclectic and selectively introspective. With synth-heavy grooves, unexpected key changes and a healthy dose of Rock charisma, the project is part Information Society and part '80s Genesis. Adams' smooth voice has appreciable range, and his keyboard and guitar playing show off his inventiveness and compositional chops (although my one complaint with the disc is that the potential variety of guitar and bass tones and crunch aren't fully explored). Naturally, the drumming is phenomenal; as in Adams' other bands, he displays the metronomic precision that makes you wonder if the parts were programmed, and the tasty feel to prove they weren't. Released in January, PSA's tunes have already been snatched for compilations and podcasts, and "The Ninth Life Jitters" has even won some very legit songwriting awards. Taking DIY to a new level, Adams has also produced a video for the song "Devastate" using the CGI skills he has honed at his multimedia design company, further illustrating that anything can happen where talent and determination intersect. Hopefully Adams will assemble a band to eventually bring this outstanding virtual project into the live realm. (Ezra Waller) Grade: B
· ARAPYMA — VICTORY OR DEATH
From the guitarmonies and galloping drums of the instrumental opener, it's apparent that Arapyma's music is rooted in Adam Curry-era Headbanger's Ball. The nine tracks that follow are characterized by outstanding individual contributions that add up to a visceral Punk-Metal blitz. Leading the charge, Rob Tewes fronts the band with commanding, guttural intensity. His aggro lyrics are appropriately paired with delivery that recalls recent Bruce Dickinson (scream-free) with a splash of Lemmy. Matt Taylor's lead guitar provides the second wave, brandishing a refined style that dips heavily into both Blues and Neo-Classical territory, similar to the formula that has carried Zakk Wylde's career into its third decade. The importance of Taylor's balance of technical prowess and tasteful playing cannot be overstated, particularly on the tracks with shifting intensity, such as "Lining Your Pickets" and "The So-Called Innocent." Bringing up the rear is the thundering third column of bassist Jonathan Powers and drummer Mark Taylor. From the frenetic pace of "The Eye" and the Kill 'Em All-inspired "Caught" to the molasses grind of "So Pure," the pair consistently provides a rock-solid platform from which Arapyma launches their ballistic assaults. Finally, Chris Schmidt's crunchy production is the ideal conduit to get the band's blistering intent to the listener in all its ear-shredding glory. But the most impressive aspect of Victory or Death is that it is melodic and accessible enough to be enjoyed by an audience wider than fans of British Metal, who are obviously going to devour it. (EW) Grade: B