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Local Licks

This week, we review Carol Denney, Via Coma, Stomacher, and One Note at a Time... Vol. II comp.

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Carol Denney, The Riley Boys. Carol Denney's voice stands front and center throughout all eighteen songs and 67 minutes. For those who take comfort in the erstwhile Berkeley activist's audacious, stage-friendly folk style, this fact may be a godsend. Yet for those with whom her self-aware expertise, trebly tones, and drawn-out, wavering syllables don't sit well, it could be a real drag. (Solid Frog Productions)

Via Coma, Bridges. It'd be fair to call prog-rock passé or out of style, but this Lafayette band and others like it — Coheed and Cambria, Brazil, fellow locals HIJK — don't let that stop them from dipping their toes in the bombast of rock days past. Via Coma keeps it precise, dishing five songs in twenty minutes, but soaring vocals, dramatic phrasing, and sharp turns eke the most out of every moment. (self-released)

Stomacher, Stomacher. The moniker In Reverent Fear didn't seem to suit this refined San Francisco pop/rock quintet. Its new name, Stomacher, is slightly less imposing, but also more ambiguous. The music is arguably ambiguous, too — at times dim and wispy, others bold and operatic, its components are continually in flux. It drags a bit, but the mystery makes it worthwhile. (self-released)

Various Artists, One Note at a Time... Vol. II. Anyone who doubts that kids can rock properly should check out this compilation of songs by local teens and their surprisingly cogent young bands. Produced by advocacy-minded youth organization Future Builders, the collection features songs by Red House, the Audiophiles, Please Quiet Ourselves, and twelve more, including Piedmont's prodigal sons Dizzy Balloon. Proceeds benefit Oakland's Ella Baker Center. (Future Builders)

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