Short Pockets

"Solid F---ing Gold"

Web: myspace.com/shortpocketsmusic

The Short Pockets cassette came packaged in a plastic bag with a big, bold note that proclaimed "If you like RJD2, Madlib, Flying Lotus or J Dilla, you might not hate this." That's a rather modest claim, especially for an album with such a cocky title.

In fact, it proves far too modest for a mix this sick. Sample-heavy instrumental hip-hop has been going through a renaissance of sorts thanks to talents like Flying Lotus and the Gaslamp Killer, and while Short Pockets' latest isn't quite so mind-expanding as the forthcoming Fly-Lo album, it's a potent pastiche worth checking out for hip-hop heads or music fans of all stripes who like to have their brains tickled.

C10

"Cut the Check"

Web: omnibreed.com

Based on my experience with Omnibreed, Chad Tennant's long-running group project, I figured his latest solo release as C10 would be full of snarling bangers, the kind with lots of dudes rapping loud and angry over big, stark beats. Although the group has always aimed to offer something for everybody, their aggressive side usually stands out to me.

So I was pleasantly surprised to hear the understated, melodic production and clever wordplay that comprises a significant chunk of C10's solo joint. Of course, there are gnarly moments like "Turn Me Up," but you get other flavors like the smooth circus organ jam "Guy Like Me," the jazzy "Do My Thang" and the unfettered violin of album closer "Pain" too.

Lyrically sharp and sonically diverse, this is the closest I've heard an Omnibreed release come to living up to the group's all-inclusive M.O.

Jester Jack

"Static"

Web: myspace.com/jesterjackband

It's called "Static," but there's nothing dissonant or tense about Jester Jack's latest LP. This music is as plain and inoffensive as you'd expect from a band that plays shows at Donatos.

Atop vanilla arrangements that might secretly be keyboard presets, the band nods sonically to David Gray and The Fray before foraying into a heavier, guitar-centric approach complete with meandering solos. The common thread between these disparate sounds is jarringly flat vocals that might mark a new nadir among post-Vedder warblers.

It would be better for everybody if these dudes just stop - or at least warn me when they have a gig so I know to order pizza somewhere else.

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