Local Licks 

This week, we review Low Red Land, Ty Segall, Diablo's Dust, and Mi Ami.

Low Red Land, Dog's Hymns. This San Francisco trio excels at something few bands do well: melodic, driving, intermittently heavy rock. The combination looks ideal on paper, but in practice often reduces to formulas and predictable dynamics. Low Red Land, however, escapes cliché by expressing angst without whining and hope without entirely trusting it. (Thread Productions)

Ty Segall, Ty Segall. Ah, the one-man band: dweller of street corners, hero of talent shows, lover of tambourines. San Francisco's Ty Segall does use a tambourine (duct-taped to the front of his bass drum), but pairs it with a crashing hi-hat and a massively overdriven guitar to create a raw, dirty rock sound that could just as well come from a '60s garage trio or '70s punk band. (Castle Face Records)

Diablo's Dust, When Time Stops. One thing this Walnut Creek husband-and-wife team doesn't lack is enterprise. Thom and Sarah Kilts have released three full-length albums in three years, each featuring a medley of styles approximating a Celtic folk/indie-rock hybrid. Funk basslines, looped riffs, and Thom's best Eddie Vedder impersonation, among other experiments, pepper When Time Stops with unpredictable moments. (self-released)

Mi Ami, Watersports. Lead singer Daniel Martin-McCormich screams in "The Man in Your House" like Kurt Cobain in Nevermind's "Territorial Pissings." But Mi Ami isn't looking to revive grunge; its bent is more toward noise, with subtle, elusive undercurrents of melody and rhythm shaped by both bass and percussion that flow beneath a jagged, tense surface of high-pitch guitar and vocals. (Quarterstick Records)


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