Review Round Up #18

PlugInMusic.com's Review Round Up feature provides five quick-fire music reviews on a weekly basis. This edition includes The October's "Bye Bye Beautiful," The Queers' "Munki Brain," Vanilla's "Vanilla," Senior Discount's "There Were Four Who Tried," and Adam Balbo's "6 Outta 9 w/Beats."

Bye Bye Beautiful

October
“Bye Bye Beautiful”
(Spark Gun Records 2006)

Indie new wave rockers The October put a poppy twist on the 1980s with soaring guitar melodies and vocals that range from breathy to falsetto from moment to moment. "Bye Bye Beautiful," the band's sophomore release, offers one mid tempo tune after another, all of them with a balanced mix that hints of rhythm and borders on catchy. Although The October retains a familiar sound throughout "Bye Bye Beautiful," the band offers something a little different.

Sounds Like: A well blended mix of indie, new wave, and pop with a touch of goth

Key Tracks: "Birth"

B-
Munki Brain

Queers
“Munki Brain”
(Asian Man Records 2007)

There is something to be said with keeping things simple. The Queers' newest full-length release "Munki Brain" is effective because of its understated tracks that have no ego or ambition to be anything other than what they are: rocking pop punk. The result is a focused and fun album that offers flashbacks and tributes to the past. "Munki Brain" is sweet and melodic but there is some definite bite behind those seemingly nice songs - especially the ode to George W. called "Monkey In A Suit."

Sounds Like: The Ramones meets The Beach Boys style of pop punk

Key Tracks: "Girl About Town," "Monkey In A Suit"

B
buy it!
Vanilla

Vanilla
“Vanilla”
(Charlatan Record Company 2007)

It is a power pop overload with Vanilla's self-titled album. The Tacoma, Washington-based band are all about taking chances with a squeaky clean sample of "Good Morning" (from "Singin' In The Rain") on "Black Saturday" before putting their own parental advisory deserving twist on it while "Teach Your Parakeet To Talk" offers a Ween-style country tune. As their verses easily float by so do their choruses as everything for Vanilla is big and full.

Sounds Like: Gentle power pop with a few surprises

Key Tracks: "Grand Teton"

B-
buy it!
There Were Four Who Tried

Senior Discount
“There Were Four Who Tried”
(Self-Released 2006)

The debut full-length release from Rhode Island's Senior Discount is a quick punk rock affair. While offering a sound that borders on pop punk, Senior Discount vary their music throughout "There Were Four Who Tried." From rough, aggressive tracks to inspire fistfights to wild, loose tracks, Senior Discount even throw in some chiming guitar riffs and touches of ska. While Senior Discount show off their ambitions with multifaceted songs and occasionally overly verbose lyrics, "There Were Four Who Tried" does not quite stand out in the crowd like it could.

Sounds Like: Blink 182 style punk rock

Key Tracks: "We All Fall Down"

C
buy it!
6 Outta 9 w/Beats

Adam Balbo
“6 Outta 9 w/Beats”
(Self-Released 2006)

Despite the silly artwork and the presence of drum machine pulses throughout "6 Outta 9 w/Beats," there is a genuineness that simply emanates from Adam Balbo's album. From his song listing George W. Bush's flaws to the more personal, Balbo's lyrics, often quirky, are the main attraction but his Bob Dylan folk style presentation completes each song. "Have you heard enough shit? I could go on," Balbo insists on "Talkin' Bush." Keep talkin', Balbo, and we are listening.

Sounds Like: Lo fi one man indie folk rock

Key Tracks: "Let's Feel Terrible Together," "Noise In My Head"

B
buy it!