Local Licks 

This week, we review Replife, Death of a Party, Tin Cup Serenade, and Astral.

Replife, The Unclosed Mind. New arrival to Oakland delivers a contender for rap record of the year. Replife, née Daniel Gray-Kontar, comes from so far outside the game — namely Cleveland, and a career as a writer/editor — that the same rules don't apply. Breakbeats, jazz, soul, poetry, and hip-hop merge into something unique and deeply satisfying. (Futuristica Music)

Death of a Party, Red Meadows EP. Oakland's Death of a Party has already stepped into the national stoplight, but takes this opportunity to hint at new directions. Its dark, dance-punk approach is nothing unusual, but epic undercurrents offer a welcome antidote to the party-and-forget-it disposability of many of their peers. (self-released)

Tin Cup Serenade, Tin Cup Serenade. First of all, excellent cover art. The music, thankfully, lives up to it. Taking its name from early gigs where earnings were collected in a tin cup, this San Francisco quintet plays intimate, low-key swing music of the old-time variety — that is, less Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and more ragtime, lounge, and blues. (self-released)

Astral, Sleepwalker. On its second full-length, San Francisco shoegaze/post-punk outfit Astral declines to try anything new — both for better and for worse. There's honor in remaining static, but not much glory. Fans of the Cure, My Bloody Valentine, and Joy Division will be inclined to tune in and drop out. (Vibraphone Records)


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