Local Licks 

This week, we review the Bruises, Hey Willpower, Cheb i Sabbah, and the Grace Woods Trio

The Bruises, Connected (Black Heart Blue Starr Music). Not quite riot grrl, not simply pop-punk: the Bruises load upbeat, dynamic pop songs with muscle and a bit of attitude, then smooth out the edges. Don't expect the menacing energy of Sleater-Kinney or the alt-rock nostalgia of Veruca Salt, rather something in the middle that works just as well.

Hey Willpower, P.D.A. (Tomlab). Hey Willpower, featuring members of Tussle and Imperial Teen, doesn't come off as sexy as it wants to be or as musically interesting as it needs to be. But if you can appreciate unabashed electro-pop (shame on you if you can't) you'll find something you like here — such as the slyly addictive lead single "Hundredaire."

Cheb i Sabbah, Devotion (Six Degrees Records). Algerian born DJ Cheb i Sabbah is a world music fixture at clubs across San Francisco. His latest work treats the devotional music of some of India's top artists to electronica textures and beats, though the effect is predictable and not always complementary.

Grace Woods Trio, Metaphoreality (self-released). There's a hint of Fiona Apple in the way Grace Woods modulates her voice from high to low and sing to speak, though Woods' wide range causes her to sometimes drift past the sweet spot. Musically, the trio — piano, bass, and drums — explores dark pop from a jazz perspective.

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