New releases from Karate Coyote, Vespin and Matthew Hoover.

Karate Coyote

"Little Victories EP"

Web: karatecoyote.com

Debut EP Move showed the sprightly side of Karate Coyote, with titles like "Move Yourself" and "So Far So Good" scaling major-key mountains at rapid rates. Their second short-form offering, Little Victories, unveils Coyote's grotesque underbelly (or at least comes as close to the dark side as a band this poppy can manage).

The two discs aren't so different that they couldn't have been combined into one release, but there's a definite thematic consistency in these four latest selections. "Sails of Black" and "Cousteau" tackle danger from the surface to the depths, while "Knight" offers a ray of light before descending into one of the band's most convincing emotional climaxes.

Little Victories is a fine step forward for a band that continues to impress. Pick it up Saturday, May 16, at Junctionview Studios' Agora celebration, where Karate Coyote will take the stage at 6 p.m.


Vespin

"Model Citizen"

Web: myspace.com/vespinmusic

Brad Swiniarski has drummed in some of the city's most vicious rock bands. Bob City, The Means, Little Darlings - the list goes on. So it only figures that when he straps on his guitar and steps to the microphone, the sound is similarly razor-sharp.

Vespin's latest, Model Citizen, is a series of relentless body blows, first from dependably destructive low-end riffs, then via Swiniarski's enraged grunts. The solos shred, the rhythms hit with sledgehammer force and the songs don't outstay their welcome - it's everything one could want from a record like this.

The group is no one-trick pony, though. For instance, "400 Hessian Prisoners" exudes a pleasant Pixies vibe while maintaining the menacing veneer that suits Swiniarski so well.

Vespin is throwing a release party Friday, May 15, at The Summit with Salvage and the reformed Means (Jacob Sundermeyer edition), now known as Bozniaks.


Matthew Hoover

"Talking to Ghosts"

Web: myspace.com/matthewhoover

With help from a long list of talented friends, Hoover, a skilled singer-songwriter in the Tim Easton/Ryan Adams/A.A. Bondy vein, offers a splendid set of folk-rock tunes. Talking to Ghosts doesn't blaze new trails in Americana, but it navigates the well-worn paths with the savvy of an experienced traveler.

Things start quietly with the harmonica-tinted balladry of "Nothing's Fair," but by the time "Glow of Nicotine" blows through like a torrential storm, Hoover has amassed an entertaining journey through enduring themes like heartbreak, redemption and the substances we use to cope with both.

Most members of Hoover's ever-shifting band the Super Saints will be on hand for the release show on Friday, May 15, at Rumba Cafe, including pedal steel master Barry Hensley, who'll be packing his bags for Portland shortly after. Hayseed and Erika Carey will play sets too.

For more local music news and reviews, click to the Sensory Overload blog at ColumbusAlive.com