Local Licks 

This week, we review Alexis Harte, Crime in Choir, the Happy Clams, and Trevor Childs & the Beholders.

Alexis Harte, Big Red Sun. Harte's fourth record was composed "in the sunset of the Bush era" and offers a vision of a decaying world. Traces of Dave Matthews' troubled optimism surface, but Harte's path is never direct enough to predict. An eclectic California singer-songwriter, he deals in modes and themes as varied as the genres from which he borrows. (self-released)

Crime in Choir, Gift Givers. Crime in Choir's music plays like a gluttonous film soundtrack or an all-instrumental musical. It's as indulgent as it is disciplined, as dramatic in its own right as it is descriptive of some unseen narrative. The all-star San Francisco band's experimental yet highly listenable fourth album is another winner, at one point pairing Shaft-like funk with Pink Floyd prog. (Kill Shaman)

The Happy Clams, I'm All Steamed Up, Baby. If any band's past can be called sordid, perhaps it's the Happy Clams'. Frontman and mastermind Paul Pot has been crafting musical ephemera in the East Bay for decades, including twelve years with the Happy Clams. This long overdue debut features lo-fi Velvet Underground drone, freakish Misfits punk rock, and a romantic ode to a second cousin. (No Fidelity Records)

Trevor Childs & the Beholders, Another Friday Night. Power pop: so glorious when done right, so disappointing when mishandled. Berkeley band Trevor Childs & the Beholders (formerly Everest) lands firmly in the former territory with this debut, which summons the genius of Big Star, the Cars, and Matthew Sweet. Bright production, deceptively simple songwriting, and catchy-as-hell hooks and melodies. (Citrus to Citrus Recordings)


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