Local Licks 

This week, we review Hang Jones, Paris, Tipsy, and Von Iva.

Hang Jones, The Ballad of Carlsbad County. Hang Jones' album-length ballad about outlaw William Bishop, broken down into twelve chapters, is about as close as you'll get to a folk opera. Storytelling takes a front seat in this 45-minute ride from the "Mexico Line" to "Hangman's Noose" (though he ends up "Alive"), as mandolin, upright bass, and fiddle keep things moving along nicely. (self-released)

Paris, Acid Reflex. Not since NWA's "Fuck tha Police" has overtly political hip-hop enjoyed any real measure of commercial success. Acid Reflex isn't quite as explicit or controversial, but Paris' political and social commentary on terrorism, Darfur, Katrina, and much more, all set to cogent contemporary beats, challenges mainstream hip-hop to move beyond bling. (Guerilla Funk Recordings)

Tipsy, Buzzz. Tracks from this veteran San Francisco electronic group's last album found their way to Sex and the City, a couple of TV commercials, and Tokyo Disneyland's Tomorrowland. Tipsy's Ipecac debut seems bound for no less strange places with a slightly deranged, yet more just playful (although calculatingly so) blend of lounge, J-pop, krautrock, and novelty music. (Ipecac Recordings)

Von Iva, Girls on Film EP. The three ladies of Von Iva want to make you shake, and as good as this material sounds on record, it'll be ten times better live. Six tracks of dance-floor electro-rock summon both Annie Lennox, in Jillian Iva's powerful vocals, and Blondie, in the band's aggressive use of synth and drum machines. Girls on Film packs a punch and teases better things to come. (self-released)

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