The Good, The Bad, The Local

More local music, from the sublime to the sub-par.

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Spot Lucy
Opera Rizzoid
The artists formerly known as Greed Engine offer up a big improvement over their last effort. The trio still tends toward straightforward, muscular riff-pop, and still falls prey to a certain wearisome amount of turgidity -

Opera Rizzoid's crisp but minimal production could've used some diversity in the guitar tones and mixes, and the band's songwriting in general would benefit from more hooks and harmonies. Several tunes ("Something New," "Beatdown," "Confused," "SS Contradiction") shine, showcasing a group that can really deliver when all the dynamic elements come together. Those elements need to come together more often than they do here, but comparing this disc with its predecessor shows Spot Lucy is definitely headed in the right direction. (

This Tampa outfit splits the difference between melodic, anthemic post-grunge and a contemporary take on power metal. The performances (some lead guitar is supplied by local six-string legend Jerry Outlaw) and production (courtesy of Morrisound Studios' Jim Morris, who gets a dense, killer sound here) are both flawless. This is a seriously professional presentation by a group of able musicians. The band sells itself short, however, by too often stooping to simpler material that conspicuously references Creed - tracks like "On My Own," "Life" and "Fallen," while weightier and more technical, could easily be mistaken for songs by the Tallahassee mega-group. They do it well, but such blatant derivation is a major drawback, particularly when "Illusions," the title track and "Fairweather Friend" show Moneyshot as capable of, if not screaming originality, at least a heavier and more interesting sound. (

Logic Gonzales
13-Track Anthology
Bay area MC Logic Gonzales has a capable crew behind him, and a signature sound - a bouncy, not-too-hard vibe that hangs somewhere between daylight block-party rocking and clubby, after-dark shenanigans. None of it is all that groundbreaking, but it's cohesive and ear-friendly, and there are some standout tracks here, like "The Way We Do" and "U Ain't Know." The best element of Gonzales' sound is the quasi-melodic gang refrains; the worst is a lack of well-defined vocal personality - he's good, but doesn't have an immediately recognizable character. Still, this is more next-level-ready than a lot of the homegrown hip-hop that finds its way to my desk. (

Dave Eichenberger
Trust Action

Analog Mythology
Eichenberger is the guitarist and resident sound-scientist for eclectic, improvisational local jam act Hazard Factor. Here, he explores his more ambient-leaning tendencies on a pair of solo discs. Analog Mythology is far and away the superior of the two; this 11-track collection of acoustic, guitar-heavy tunes ebbs and flows nicely while showing off Eichenberger's deft balance of technique and restraint. Trust Action, on the other hand, is anonymously tedious. Its four tracks (average song length is 16 minutes) sound very much the same, taking far too long to introduce thematic changes that fly too far under the radar anyway; the whole thing sounds like background music for computer-generated videos of prehistoric fish or gigantic, ponderously cruising spaceships. ( Trust Action:

Analog Mythology:
Last Great Hope
Creatures of Beauty
Venice, Florida: home of shark's tooth festivals, grandparents you keep meaning to visit, and one beer-swilling bunch of punk-rockers called Last Great Hope. The title of their debut full-length, Creatures of Beauty, is a bit of a ruse; these guys ain't pretty, and while the rockabilly-infused punk they play brings to mind many adjectives, "beauty" is not among them. Try "terse," "agitated" or "street-smart." Last Great Hope plays some slowed down old-school punk that doesn't take itself too seriously. While Creatures of Beauty is indeed filled with enough youthful energy to warrant a pretty high dosage of Ritalin, their influences - New York Dolls, Social D and the Ramones among them - are well chosen, straddling the gap between faddish pop-punk and greasy, three-chords-and-we-don't-care rockabilly. A treat, indeed. (

-Mark SandersThe Chase Theory
Scrapbook: 1998-2001
Most bands who release "career retrospectives" before their reputation can justify it deserve about as much respect as bands whose reputations are staked solely on cover songs. With the release of Scrapbook: 1998-2001, Bradenton rock band The Chase Theory has released a career retrospective that includes a cover (Jawbreaker's "Accident Prone"). But the band, still young and presumably writing new songs, isn't saying farewell to anyone yet. Scrapbook is The Chase Theory's long-out-of-print debut album, now reissued on Tribunal Records, remastered and with bonus material: Two previously unreleased tracks and a compilation cut join the aforementioned cover. Though modern rock (OK, "emo," if that's what you want to call it) has an embarrassingly short shelf life, these tracks sound every bit as new as material from The Chase Theory's stellar 2003 release, Our Enemies Are Invisible. There are no details on when fans can expect the band's next studio effort, but this release should keep their ears ringing in the meantime. (

-Mark SandersThe Reverse Engineers
Max Q
The Reverse Engineers evoke both heady trios like Rush and the Police, and austerely quirky old-school college-rock combos like The Fixx or Talk Talk. There's plenty of reverb-filled air between the copious notes, but there are also plenty of hooks and double-take-inducing riffs and lyrics on Max Q. Charles Cote's lyrics, often with extraordinary themes, dip into cheese (as on "You Control The Sun"). Additionally, both a side trip into Latin rhythm ("Till We Say Goodbye") and a cover of "The Sound of Silence" are ill-advised. A majority of the tracks, however, come off as strangely attractive, and overall, these three brothers have crafted an original, compelling power-trio sound that's sure to intrigue older rock fans, adventurous younger listeners and musicians of all stripes. They're a band's band for sure, but not too much of one. (

Eve's Reason
This Bay area foursome (two guys, two girls) is a live favorite, but this disc comes off as a collection of hit-and-miss modern-rock tunes that mostly miss. The production quality is spotty, for one thing - the guitars are often poorly recorded, and the album doesn't sound like it was mastered (volume levels vary crazily from song to song). And while Laura Farrow is a competent vocalist, her performances here sound forced. But Pariah's biggest problem is one that often hampers full-lengths from bands used to pleasing bar and club crowds: identity. The sinewy standout track "Clear" aside, these tracks hop from style to style, running through familiar-sounding rock riffs without any cohesion save Farrow's voice. (

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