Local Licks 

This week, we review Joyo Velarde, Pollux, James and Evander, and Mike P.

Joyo Velarde, Joyo Velarde EP. This five-song teaser of Velarde's upcoming debut does just what it should: establish her as an artist in her own right. The frequent Quannum Projects collaborator (and wife of rapper Lyrics Born) can carry a song on her own, and does with aplomb. Much credit is due to Born's slick hip-hop-meets-R&B production, but Velarde's clear, melodic voice is supremely endearing. (Quannum Projects)

Pollux, For the Ghost. Imagine Jeff Buckley fronting a late-Nineties alternative rock band — from Soundgarden's catharsis to Radiohead's contemplation — and you're at least halfway there. This is conveyed with patience and utmost sincerity, from Carey Head's Buckley-esque howl to the band's direct yet emotional performance. Pollux's music would make a fine blanket for a cloudy day. (self-released)

James and Evander, Awkward Turtle EP. With a name like Awkward Turtle, it can be just one thing: cutesy, charming, unabashedly twee indie-pop. Something like the Postal Service meets Belle and Sebastian. But Oakland duo James and Evander subverts expectations just enough to make its sleepy electro-pop feel a bit dark. Not a word is spoken among the EP's 22 minutes, contributing to its ethereal moodiness. (500Records)

Mike P., Whipped Cream. First things first: the record sleeve is adorned with close-up, cropped photos of booties ("Cupcake$") and breasts ("Cookie$"). Mike P.'s gritty, urban, but not quite gangsta hip-hop can be surprisingly tuneful, with help from his pals Andre Nickatina ("Btch Pt. 2"), Equipto and San Quinn ("Hella Records"), and Krushadelic ("Valley of Kingz"). Fillmoe Frisco represent, as it were. (Meshewaa Records)

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