Local Licks 

This week, we review Five Cent Coffee, Ruffians, the Child Readers, and Jef Stott.

Five Cent Coffee, Bourbon & Beans. My baby don't shop at Maybelline/She's got a natural beauty like a hobo in the gutter drinkin' gasoline, from opening track "My Baby," makes a fine calling card for Five Cent Coffee's irreverent, minimalist country sound. Equally telling is the trio's sparse deployment of washboard, melodeon, kazoo, and "17½ lb. chain." (self-released)

Ruffians, Desert of Tears. Metal has always been fond of its past, ceaselessly (and unironically) worshipping early architects while embracing most new acts to tap vintage sounds. Berkeley's Ruffians, formed in 1983 and recently reunited, are simultaneously the real thing and faithful revivalists: The perfect storm? (Old School Metal Records)

The Child Readers, Music Heard Far Off. To call them experimental wouldn't quite be fair; the Child Readers seem to know exactly what they're doing. Unsuspecting listeners, however, won't have a clue. The songs are mostly sounds, the melodies are barely there, and words such as "chorus" and "verse" are of no use. Understand that and you're halfway there. (Soft Abuse)

Jef Stott, Saracen. Worldly musician, producer, and DJ Jef Stott blends electronics with Middle Eastern instruments (most played by him) and occasional guest vocals. As far as club fare goes, his concoctions are closer to the source than most, showing deep respect for other cultures in their presentation to Western audiences. (Six Degrees Records)


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