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Local Licks

This week, we review Justin Loans, The Wild Kindness, and The Trophy Fire.

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Justin Loans, How to Fake It in America

The solo debut from Justin Loans, one-half of Oakland hip-hop duo RnB Millionaires, How to Fake It in America explores the theme No Money Mo Problems. Loans drops pop-culture references galore — Biggie, The Cosby Show, the Chicago Bulls — but in a personal and revealing way. On "Droppin Off," he raps in staccato bursts about waking up hung over, newly single, and regretting spending his last $20 on "molly" (aka MDMA). Loans boasts clever wordplay and quick flow on "Champion," in which he chronicles growing up with a single mother, getting a paper route, and learning to cook beans and rice, but admits Imma be a Whole Food dreamer for life. Producers Jay Casio and Neto keep the lo-fi beats simple and meditative. (self-released)

The Wild Kindness, Fading Faster

Garage pop quartet The Wild Kindness tightens its sound and fills out some of the fuzz on its sophomore EP Fading Faster. The band retains plenty of its off-kilter, lo-fi indie-rock sound, but "At Least We're in Love" shows it's capable of writing endearing pop songs with longing-filled harmonies and sweet, jangly, twee guitar. The crisp, punchy drums and melodic bass line on "Beat the Clock" are also refreshingly straightforward. (self-released)

The Trophy Fire, Directions for Daylight

File under Another Band That Sounds Like Foo Fighters — and a watered-down version at that. On its third album, Directions for Daylight, San Francisco trio The Trophy Fire pursues alt-rock in nostalgic piano- and synth-driven ballads. Opener "Hey Dreamer" combines soft drums and dramatic melodic builds as Ben Flanagan croons, I wish you'd come around. There are two decent rock anthems: "Spinning," with its dirty pop hooks, layered vocals, and catchy chorus; and "Crystal Skyline," which effectively uses loud-quiet-loud dynamics. (Greyday Records)

At Cafe du Nord (2170 Market St., San Francisco) on Friday, May 31. 9:30 p.m., $10, $12. CafeduNord.com 

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