Local Licks 

This week, we review Dizzy Balloon, Stratosphere 68, Larry Vuckovich Trio, and Songs to Light the Night comp.

Dizzy Balloon, Dizzy Balloon. The teenage pop-rock quintet formerly known as Panda sounds more polished on this official full-length debut than ever before, but doesn't discount its boyish charm. Production may be a bit heavy-handed (call it professional), though the songs themselves — and the performances to boot — are as strong as we've come to expect from these Piedmont kids. (self-released)

Stratosphere 68, Lunch with Lazarus. No question what these guys grew up listening to. Lunch with Lazarus pays homage to fatalistic stoner rock and metal from the '70s, with, naturally, a little blues and funk mixed in. David Byrd's lead guitar, oft reminiscent of Black Sabbath, provides most of the highlights, as the rest is a little too loose to feel at home outside a bar. (self-released)

Larry Vuckovich Trio, High Wall: Real Life Film Noir. Unrepentant jazz: that's what we get from the Larry Vuckovich Trio, featuring Vuckovich on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Eddie Marshall on drums, plus a healthy stable of assistants. The record is conceived as a film noir soundtrack with reinterpretations of 1940s compositions and an original commissioned for a film festival. (Tetrachord Music)

Various Artists, Songs to Light the Night. Most of the sixteen tracks on this collection land squarely in the realm of adult contemporary, but that doesn't blunt their emotional impact. Brad Wolfe, Megan Slankard, Luce, Built for the Sea, Pine & Battery, and other top-rate local artists help bring awareness to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Light the Night fund-raising walk. (Backlight.org)


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