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Local Licks

This week we review The Musical Art Quintet, Surplus 1980, Repeat After Me, and The Brothers Goldman.

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The Musical Art Quintet, Nuevo Chamber

Classical music is sexy again. Lest you doubt that, look no further than Mission District chamber group The Musical Art Quintet, a string ensemble that imports world influences (mostly Latin, though composer Sascha Jacobsen also cites Cuba and Africa) into a traditional western format. The harmonies in Jacobsen's music are so beautiful as to be considered escapist, even though the music is well-conceived and thoroughly plotted. (Classical Revolution Records)

Surplus 1980, Relapse in Response

If anyone truly stands at the intersection of punk rock and jazz, it's percussionist and bandleader Moe! Staiano. His new project is a bizarre combination of thrash hooks, yelled vocals, and careful orchestration, featuring many of the best instrumentalists in the local noise scene. Staiano plays a whole battery of instruments, including drums, crystal bowl, oscillators, bass, and guitar, and sings in a tweaky, Fred Schneider-ish twang. It's weird, but fascinating. (Delphine Knormal Musik)

Repeat After Me, From the Mountaintop

For a newly-formed four-piece, Repeat After Me sounds remarkably clean — sharp production, sensible guitar riffs, dry percussion, plainspoken lyrics. There's very little chord variation between songs and the band never strays far from boilerplate themes (love, loss, regret, star-crossed relationships — those are all guesses, actually, since the lyrics are fairly vague). Nice vocal work on "Gimme What You Got." (self-released)

The Brothers Goldman, fOnkOlOgy

Singer-guitarist Bill Phillippe and drummer Joe O'Loughlin hired some of the best local instrumentalists to complete their sophomore album, including Hammond B-3 organist Wil Blades, tenor saxophonist Joe Cohen, and Afropop trumpeter Will Magid. The album is impressively polished, even if the guests sometimes outpace the stars. (self-released)

At The Boom Boom Room (1601 Geary Blvd., San Francisco) on Thursday, Dec. 15. 8 p.m., $7. 

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