Local Licks 

This week, we review L'Avventura, Papercuts, Don't Die, and Rob Reich.

L'Avventura, Your Star Was Shining. San Francisco-via-London trio Niagara, plus a complete cast of backing musicians, reemerges as L'Avventura on this polite, highly refined collection of pop tunes. Classic rock songcraft, with the studio employed to full effect and every note in its right place, informs the approach. Your Star Was Shining may be mature, but it's not boring. (Elliptical Recordings)

Papercuts, You Can Have What You Want. If I told you there was a Bay Area band that evoked the Velvet Underground singing like the Zombies on far too many downers, you'd probably respond, "Wow, rad!" Not so fast. Jason Quever's Papercuts are heavy on the stylish, chic, mellow California drug haze, but light on just about everything else. They certainly have their place, but empty psych-pop is still empty. (Gnomonsong)

Don't Die, Juicy. This pastiche of ambient and found sound, electronics, and avant-garde instrumentals may initially feel a bit too patchwork. But over repeated listens, its crafty experimentalism becomes beguiling. Juicy would work well as soundtrack music or in an abstract sound installation, yet much of it stands on its own as high-grade album material. (self-released)

Rob Reich, The Balancing Act. Beyond being composed entirely of solo accordion pieces, Rob Reich's debut release has another rare quality: It features music composed in four different centuries. From Bach's 1723 piece "Invention No. 6" to Reich's 2008 originals, from traditional and classical to klezmer and folk, The Balancing Act delivers a salient vision of the accordion's incredible adaptability. (self-released)


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