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MSTRKRFT, One Night Band, Cute is What We Aim For, KC Booker, Jake Stigers, The Big Tease, Johnny Kobra, Shiny Toy Guns, Permanent Me, Midnight Movies, Ahab Rex

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This month Zane listens to albums from MSTRKRFT, One Night Band, Cute is What We Aim For, KC Booker, Jake Stigers, The Big Tease, Johnny Kobra, Shiny Toy Guns, Permanent Me, Midnight Movies, Ahab Rex

Cute is What We Aim For - The Same Old Blood Rush With a New Touch

This is emo-pop with the same wordy introspection and glossy guitars that have made bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco so popular with teenage girls. That isn't a bad thing. I am sure it will give Cute is What We Aim For a hit or two and maybe even a performance slot on One Tree Hill. 

The music is strictly rudimentary emo, and the lyrics will be over the head of anyone without a degree in high school hipster lingo. You'll laugh, cringe or shake your fist in salute to a band that finally understands how hard it is to be you.

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KC Booker - KC Booker

KC Booker started out playing street corners with an acoustic guitar and a boom box. His inspirations range form Run DMC to Muddy Waters and T. Rex. If the idea of some kid rocking acoustic blues guitar over hip-hop beats makes you cringe, or think of the hipster presence of Beck, then you are missing the fun and genuinely fresh sound of KC Booker.

Yes, it has moments of blind derivativeness, but his mood is infectious and the record is a quick shot to the arm. The guitar drives each song, with the standard hi-hop beats adding some color. By no means revelatory, but fun nonetheless. 

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Jake Stigers - No Vacancy

The sophomore record from Jake Stigers is a bluesy rock record that's big on clean riffs and soulful vocals. At his best Stigers conjures up some Bob Seger heartland rock, but at his worst he's any random Nashville balladeer.

Unfortunately the balladeer comes around more often than the driving rocker. Good guitar player and decent songs, a little less schmaltz would have been an immense benefit.

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One Night Band - Way Back Home

Who would have thought Canada was going to become a hotbed of reggae? Montreal's One Night Band nails the vibes of typical ska and reggae. The band even throws in some soulful organ work and some R&B touches. The record is lighthearted and generally up-tempo. You surely won't hear much anger or defiance coming from a couple of French Canadians. Enjoy Way Back Home for the mellow reggae sounds that it trades in.

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MSTRKRFT - The Looks

MSTRKRFT make no bones about their love of Daft Punk. The electronic beats and blips on The Looks would be perfect for a cell-phone commercial. Throwaway dance music is 100% style over substance, and this record is the perfect example of that. It's often fun, often grating, but completely forgettable.

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The Big Tease - Paper Symphony

The Big Tease debuted as alt rock copycats. Their follow-up, Paper Symphony, pulls away from modern rock radio to provide much more interesting melodies and a few new ideas. The music is still unremarkable, but at least they have begun to pave their own way and stretch out their songwriting talents.

At just six tracks it is a little short on content, but there is enough to make you want to check out what they do next.

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Johnny Kobra - The Smell of Rock and Roll

Johnny Kobra wrote all the songs, performed every instrument, recorded, produced and mixed his debut album The Smell of Rock and Roll. Type A personalities like this usually do well in music. They would also do well to get at least one other person involved in the creation of an album. By playing every instrument, nothing but Kobra's guitar gets adequate attention and ends up making the nine songs static and fuzzy.

His guitar is quite good. Bluesy and soulful, he would be better served with a proper band and able to focus on making the best guitar parts. Then he would be in business.

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Shiny Toy Guns - We are Pilots

Chances are you have heard the debut single from Shiny Toy Guns. "Le Disko" is a funky slab of electronic swagger with a vocalist that can only be described as Gwen Stefani with balls. It's a good alt rock track. Unfortunately this is a ruse. The rest of the album is a tepid Depeche Mode knock-off with just some dude singing.

Without "Le Disko" We Are Pilots would have been a pretty and oftentimes quite engaging record, but with it everything else feels like cold spaghetti.

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Permanent Me - After the Room Clears

Most pop/punk bands rely on the same formula. Simple, shimmery guitar riffs, catchy choruses and a high school sensibility. This always leads to them sounding the same. Some are particularly loathsome, while others stick around and endear themselves beyond their predetermined expiration date.

Permanent Me is the kind of catchy pop/punk band that is completely non-threatening, and has an album of straightforward pop songs with After the Room Clears. They are certainly not the Ramones, but they would be perfect for your little sister to cut her teeth on.

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Midnight Movies - Patient Eye/Golden Hair

Patient Eye/Golden Hair is a little EP by the LA band Midnight Movies. It's been 2 years since the band's debut album, so this may be a little treat for fans as the uninitiated would be better served to just check out the full-length debut.

The 3 song EP includes 2 versions of the song "Patient Eye" and a cover of Syd Barret's "Golden Hair" with lyrics from a poem by James Joyce. That right there might be a clue into the oeuvre of this band.

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Ahab Rex - Blood on Blonde

I guess it would be easiest to describe Ahab Rex as a post-punk band with some elements of the Pixies and a sprinkling of Tom Waits. Rex's vocals steer towards Waits, but come across far less natural and get to be plain irritating after 12 tracks of the same thing.

A smattering of industrial sneaks into a few tracks and gives Rex a touch of menace while the female vocalists strike a pretty contrast against him. The album never hits its stride, never rises or sinks emotionally. It is just kind of there. Rex is on to some really good ideas, they are just not capitalized on. The sophomore slump isn't fun, but he has the tools to turn it around next time.

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