Local Licks 

This week, we review The Mighty Underdogs, Damon and the Heathens, Rademacher, Le Fits, and HYIM.

The Mighty Underdogs

The Prelude EP (self-released). Perhaps it's a judgment call as to whether Gift of Gab, Lateef the Truthspeaker, and Headnodic are actually underdogs, especially when they work with DJ Shadow and MF Doom. But there's no doubting the new trio's dynamic debut and its promise of a great full-length follow-up.

Damon and the Heathens

Now That It's Over EP (self-released). Four new songs — a teaser for next year's debut full-length — from the big-band-with-an-attitude that dubs its sound "Oakland grit." Live audiences dig the sextet's energy and authenticity, though not everything translates seamlessly to the studio.

Rademacher

Stunts (self-released). Malcolm Sosa sings like Stephen Malkmus, and that's all right — though his lyrics aren't nearly as sharp (or meaningless, depending on where you stand). Musically, Rademacher succeeds in its quest for playful indie rock that plain sounds good.

Le Fits

Sportif (UFI Records). The scattershot, experimental indie pop of Le Fits' sophomore record isn't really pop at all, but darkness and drama wearing bright clothes. How Oakland.

HYIM

Elation EP (Hippi Mafia). Pretty as hell, thoroughly uplifting, not really original: this is the music of talented Oakland artist HYIM (Hebrew for "life"), who — to the satisfaction of Sting, Ben Harper, and Santana fans — favors performance over innovation.

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