Chris DeVille reviews new releases from Old Hundred, R is for Rocket and The Real California.


Old Hundred

"Old Hundred EP"

Web: myspace.com/oldhundred

More than enough rustic folk-rockers have emerged locally and nationwide in recent years, but Blake Skidmore and the boys make a strong case for your attention with this initial three-song offering. Accordion-drowned slow jam "Say It Again" would be a high-water mark for most bands of this ilk, but it's kind of a drag compared to the songs that sandwich it.

"Winter Months" builds so deftly that you barely notice how Old Hundred has shifted from measured calm to melodic exultation before your ears. And "A Thousand Times" in particular impresses with its choral caterwaul and that soaring, stomping climax. Witness these dudes in action Friday at Rumba Cafe, where they'll join Vug and the Stallions opening for Jessica Lea Mayfield.


R is for Rocket

"Friend or Foe"

Web: myspace.com/risforrocketmusic

If Owl City's electro indie-pop is the T.G.I. Friday's version of the Postal Service, what does that make R is for Rocket - the microwave dinner version? Despite Owl City's inane lyrics, let's at least acknowledge that "Fireflies" is a catchy, well-assembled hit. After the initial repulsion, there's some merit to be discovered there.

R is for Rocket is harder to dig, and "Tarmac" encapsulates why. The track is most appealing when its verses tap into that flimsy "Neil Young in space" vibe that worked for Grandaddy, but its auto-tuned chorus embodies some obnoxious, emo-infused dance pop suitable for preteen Twilight fangirls only.

Too much of Friend or Foe falls into that category, which is a shame since Rocket mastermind Jason Turner does good work with his other band, Exceptional Edward.


The Real California

"Noetic"

Web: myspace.com/therealcalifornia

Dan Spurgeon's Bush League All-Stars appear elsewhere in this issue. Spurgeon's former Peachbones bandmates have been just as productive, turning in a strong set that finds the moody intersection between My Morning Jacket and Built to Spill.

"Noetic" refers to the study of innate knowing and inner consciousness, and this is fine music for exploring such far-out concepts and for putting some visceral punch into otherwise sleepy soundscapes.

Indeed, all the mid-tempo guitar jams can get a little monotonous after a while - a little punk rock would do these guys wonders - but consumed a few tracks at a time, it's splendid for spaced-out rumination.