Giraffes/Grafton 

Giraffes/Majesty Shakes EP

Musty '90s sludge rock (à la Mule or the Cows) might seem like some grunge asterisk to bicoastals, but in the Midwest it's practically a classic rock genre. Two new releases prove there's life in that flannelled offshoot. Columbus, Ohio, power trio Grafton pounds out swamp punk of a faster take, leaving its mud-caked boots in the garage after the gator hunt. Check the cover of under-underground garage greats the Cheater Slicks' "Bruno's Night Out."

While the Giraffes make Brooklyn their base, they have a couple transplanted Ohioans, and their sound feels more "industrial bar" than "Williamsburg niteclub." Giraffes spit-shines a nasty boogie with pro production and metallic heft via singer Aaron Lazar's Hetfield-like yelps and fret-shredding, though that does get tiring by CD's end. Rockabilly hints and expert musicianship suggest these guys have larger aims, though, as they make explicit on "Wage Earner," a kiss-off to the off-campus keggers this genre was birthed in: Hope you had a good time/Gave it the old college try.

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