Local Licks 

This week, we review Careless Hearts, Railcars, J.Boogie's Dubtronic Science, and Jenavox.

Careless Hearts, Heart's Delight. One of many young Bay Area acts playing alt-country and folk-rock, San Jose's Careless Hearts earns an advantage over its contemporaries not through innovation or technique or even personality, but through unmitigated honesty. From sad country songs to upbeat blues, even a rocking cover of Bob Dylan's "Isis," it all feels true. (self-released)

Railcars, Cities vs. Submarines 7". Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu recorded (in his kitchen), produced, and engineered this ten-minute offering, which certainly has a Xiu Xiu vibe: glitchy electronics, anxious soundscapes, tormented vocals. Aria C. Jalai, the San Francisco musician behind Railcars, sounds comfortable in this place, and may have found his calling: Xiu Xiu Two. (Gold Robot Records)

J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science, Soul Vibrations. Just because you sing about revolution doesn't mean you're part of one. J- Boogie's sophomore album is certainly fun and features a wide range of local talent including Lyrics Born, MC Zion, and Crown City Rockers. But style doesn't mean substance, and deep down Soul Vibrations is merely a lightweight dalliance of borrowed hip-hop, soul, and world music. (Om Records)

Jenavox, The Garden EP. This Bay Area quintet's six-song, self-released EP has the feel of an intimate bedroom project. Singer-songwriter leanings, alternative folk, and a bit of early '90s college rock mingle with an unexpected Brit-pop aesthetic, revealed through bright acoustic guitar chords and a slight vocal affect. The songs are unassuming but improve with age. (self-released)


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