Review Round Up #62

PlugInMusic.com's Review Round Up feature provides five quick-fire music reviews on a weekly basis. This edition includes Plan 9's "Manmade Monster," Adam Balbo's "Big Kid Now," Deas Vail's "White Lights," Jack Conte's "Sleeping In Color," and Hand To Hand's "Breaking The Surface."

Manmade Monster

Plan 9
“Manmade Monster”
(Nickel and Dime Records 2008)

On their sophomore release, "Manmade Monster," Plan 9 are turning their sights and their music towards Glenn Danzig-inspired tracks instead of sticking strictly to covers. While the band can't quite replicate the patented Danzig croon, they do produce a rocking sound that channels their icons without exact cloning. Unfortunately, Plan 9's singer Aaron Fuller was killed in a motorcycle accident earlier this year but the band has been soldiering on.

Sounds Like: For fans only: a Misfits cover band that also does original material

Key Tracks: "War of the Worlds," "Blood"

B
buy it!
Big Kid Now

Adam Balbo
“Big Kid Now”
(Self-Released 2008)

Adam Balbo is a little bit of an oddball with his tales of a monkey's home life and lyrics that jump around without really digging too deep (albeit occasionally clever, i.e. "If you can't deliver me from evil, how about a pizza?"). Balbo is certainly working to prove his EP's title as he shows off his lo-fi folk music with a certain childlike simplicity. Think of any major folk singer from the past decades from Bob Dylan to Woody Guthrie and you'll find a bit in Balbo.

Sounds Like: A staring contest set to folk music where Balbo dares you to smirk

Key Tracks: "Big Kid Now," "Pie or Soup"

C+
buy it!
White Lights

Deas Vail
“White Lights”
(Brave New World Records 2008)

On "White Lights," their latest EP release from Brave New World, Deas Vail are all about smooth melodies that soar amidst twinkling accents and falsetto vocals. While the EP's opening track is somewhat dominating and dynamic, the rest of the release is mellower with slow meandering tunes and unadulterated ballads of gentle pop rock. And for a five song EP, that's a lot of ballads.

Sounds Like: Soaring melodies for ballad-loving fans

Key Tracks: "White Lights"

B-
buy it!
Sleeping In Color

Jack Conte
“Sleeping In Color”
(Self-Released 2008)

No, your stereo isn't skipping and, no, the CD isn't scratched. Jack Conte chops up the swirling melodies and twinkling electronic instrumentation of his "Sleeping in Color" EP to create a sound that is edgy and modern while also bordering on eerie. The disjointed rhythms make things interesting but also beg the question if Conte relies too heavily on them.

Sounds Like: Electronic indie

Key Tracks: "Now That's Sacred"

B-
buy it!
Breaking The Surface

Hand to Hand
“Breaking The Surface”
(Lifeforce Records America 2008)

At first glance, there may not be a lot in Hand To Hand's screamo/post-hardcore sound to set them apart from the crowd as they alternate rough growling with choruses of comparatively chaste sounding vocals. But on "Breaking The Surface," the band's most recent EP, they do mix things up. Hand To Hand offer a more straight-forward rock sound with "Paint This Town Black" that comes across as different and more interesting while "Bullets for Teeth" is both rougher and tougher as it spirals downward without sounding made-up.

Sounds Like: Pristine melodies buried under growling screamo

Key Tracks: "Paint This Town Black"

C
buy it!