Local Licks 

This week, we review Vanessa Lowe, Solcraft, Axton Kincaid, and FEMI.

Vanessa Lowe, Eep. Eep is far from the first thing that comes to mind when listening to Lowe's fourth album. More like ahhh. Her brand of dream-pop-meets-indie-folk lacks energy, but sounds just right for those moments that demand reflection and relaxation. Still, it's not vacant chill-out music; Lowe's songs are fully fledged and lyrically deep. (Mighty Prawn)

Solcraft, Solcraft EP. The four men of Solcraft call their sound "Bay Area style rock," but it's unclear what that means even after a listen to their EP. What one does hear is three songs and twelve minutes of capable, relatively straightforward alt-rock with a crunchy grunge edge, something like Godsmack playing Collective Soul — which isn't as bad as it sounds. (self-released)

Axton Kincaid, Silver Dollars. Another modern country record for indie kids discovering bluegrass and banjos! Maybe it's the simplicity and lack of pretense that does it; maybe it's the sweet duds. Silver Dollars runs a little hot and cold, but even listeners who don't normally dig country should yield willfully to the fiddle, mandolin, and songs about drinking. (Free Dirt Records)

FEMI, Sweet Water Soul EP. Oakland's FEMI flows like water on this easy-listening soul sampler. Syncopated drums and lightly popping bass lines lend her songs a funk flavor, but in the end — with the exception of Latin standout "If I Knew" — they're soul through and through. Her gentle voice doesn't lead like it could, blending into a romantic tapestry of flute, keys, guitar, and percussion. (Talking House Records)


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