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Local Licks

This week, we review Woolly Man, Out Damned Spot, and Field Trips.

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Woolly Man, Hidden Among the Lips and Tongues

The term "freak folk" has been so overused that it's become a fairly meaningless descriptor, but Woolly Man's music lives up to the genre's name: Frightening, naked, and dark, its debut album, Hidden Among the Lips and Tongues, is torturous at times, as if the listener is eavesdropping on a downward spiral into madness. Woolly Man's croaky, hung-over-sounding vocals quiver through minimal percussion and stripped-down, sometimes out-of-tune acoustic guitar. The detailed lyrics — about lavender-scented bars of soap and a lipstick mark from a one-night stand, for example — lend vivid imagery to the psychological decay. Download it for free on Bandcamp. (self-released)

Out Damned Spot, Out Damned Spot

Before indie rock there was alt-rock, a catchall genre that encompassed everything from grunge to bands like Jane's Addiction. Out Damned Spot takes its cues from the female-fronted bands of this period like 10,000 Maniacs and Concrete Blonde, pairing emotional, romantic lyrics with heavy rock and pop. The group hits all the right notes — throaty, powerhouse female vocals; melodic guitar builds and emotive solos; and peppy rock drumming — but it'll be most exciting to fans of the aforementioned bands or anyone longing for the glory days of Lilith Fair. (self-released)

Field Trips, Field Trips

Dramatic and strange, with a lead singer who sounds like Placebo frontman Brian Molko, Field Trips has a lot going for it. And yet, on its debut EP, it all goes horribly wrong: The high-and-low seesawing vocals; the off-key, organ-grinder-on-crack melodies; and the messy transitions combine into a punk cabaret nightmare that borders on unlistenable. That said, there are some interesting moments: the soft guitar intro to "Neat Girls"; the moments of actual singing (rather than ear-splitting screeching and yelling); the lo-fi fuzz on "Swampy/Jeans." Field Trips seems capable of making decent music if it quit experimenting for the sake of experimenting. (self-released)

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