Local Licks 

This week, we review Rising Asterisk, Song of the Siren, Raashan Ahmad, and d.a.v.O.

Rising Asterisk, Rise & Shine. Fans of Seattle's Blue Scholars should be down with local crew Rising Asterisk, a two-guy, two-girl group billing its sound as universal conscious hip-hop. Asterisk's debut full-length thrives on vintage flavor, with modern infusions of R&B vocals and peppy rock and jazz samples. The batch is hit or miss, but when it works, it really works. (Grow Records)

Raashan Ahmad, The Push. Crown City Rocker Ahmad proves he can manage just fine on his own with this solo debut. While the whole set is worth hearing, he's at his best when blending contemporary backpacker hip-hop with old-school flow and soulful, sample-based beats — as in standout "If I," a summer mixtape-ready triumph. (Om Records)

Song of the Siren, City Lights Are Blinding You. After touring as a solo singer-songwriter for two years, frontwoman Isul Kim teamed up with Anthony Petrocchi, Steve Muscatell, and Tim Guandalini to form alt-rock/pop group Song of the Siren. Kim is still the focal point, with an elastic, expressive voice capable of evoking an array of moods and feelings. Her backup is solid, but not outstanding. (Modern Mythology)

d.a.v.O., Benefit of the Doubt. San Francisco percussionist, singer, and rapper d.a.v.O. lugs a bigger bag of tricks than your average bedroom producer. Across Benefit, beats, production, and mixing reveal prodigious talent and creativity without becoming too cerebral or abstract for a night at the club. Improved vocals could render him the Bay Area's answer to the Postal Service. (self-released)

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