Local Licks 

This week we review Vanessa Lowe, The Sam Chase, The Dandelion War, and Mighty Quinn.

Vanessa Lowe, Stars of Bean Hollow

A girly, crystalline voice and a knack for inventive phrasing will undoubtedly propel the career of folk singer Vanessa Lowe. Not to mention she has a tight band to bolster her, with Myles Boisen handling the guitar parts, Kent Sparling on percussion, Ben Freelove on bass, and a variety of guests. Her arrangements feature melodica, reed organ, auto harp, well-crafted string arrangements, and "atmospherics." (Jicama Salad Company)

At Subterranean Art House (2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley) on Friday, Sept. 28. 8 p.m., $10, $15

The Sam Chase, The Sam Chase Will Lead Us to Victory

Apparently indefatigable jug band leader Sam Chase graced the pages of this newspaper just a few weeks ago, and, already, he's back, with a triumphal full-length debut. The Tom Waits comparison seems unavoidable, given the scruffy, growly, tinny nature of Chase's vocals. That said, his songwriting is much more straightforward than that of his antecedent. (self-released)

The Dandelion War, We Were Always Loyal to Lost Causes

Ostensibly a melodic, broody, indie-rock band, The Dandelion War writes songs that plod along with glacial elegance, buoyed by Larry Fernández' ghostly vocals, a warm wash of background harmonies, and the occasional peal of bells. Some songs lurch along a little too slowly, but the instrumentation is just beautiful. (Purple Stones Music)

At Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th St., San Francisco) on Friday, Sept. 7. 9:30 p.m., $10, $12

Mighty Quinn, Young Ninjas EP

By himself, Oakland rock singer Quinn Walker — aka Mighty Quinn — might just be another parched male alto with vulnerable-guy lyrics, but with the help of producer Brian Lee White, he's a viable pop act. Their new single, "Fear," features a slinky minor-key melody over a cantering hip-hop beat, with no frills or studio effects. It's the stuff of noir, but it's also catchy enough to lodge in your brain the way pop jingles do. (self-released)

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