Local Licks 

This week, we review Sean Smith, Chinese Bookie, the Hipwaders, and Liz Kennedy

Sean Smith, Eternal (Gnome Life Records). Like the best poetry, Eternal engages from the start and expands with each pass. Built upon Smith's Eastern-influenced acoustic guitar and sparing contributions from four fellow instrumentalists, the disc explores both the form and sound of music through seven joyous, contemplative tracks.

Chinese Bookie, Is That You Behind Those Foster Grants? EP (self-released). It'd be a shame if the best song on here were a cover, and while Chinese Bookie — née San Francisco's Viola Keeton — does a wicked awesome version of New Order's "Age of Consent," this five-track electro-pop debut also features three winning originals.

The Hipwaders, Educated Kid (self-released). Kids' music that doesn't drive adults nuts is a trend to get behind. The Hipwaders have been at it since '04, even performing at Lollapalooza last year. Their third album offers a thoroughly tolerable batch of pop songs about behaving well with siblings, using the Dewey Decimal System, and falling asleep.

Liz Kennedy, Clean White Shirt (Jaggo Records). Kennedy's supporters like to tag her as "Bonnie Raitt without the slide guitar," though I wouldn't be so rash. Whereas Raitt can't quite move beyond her showy blueswoman persona, Kennedy sings from her piano bench with the subdued tone of an artist not seeking attention but earning it.


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