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Local Licks

This week we review Rocketship Rocketship, Valerie JanLois, The Midnight Snackers, and Feral Cat.

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Rocketship Rocketship, Rocketship Rocketship

Comparisons can be gauche, but here's one reserved for special occasions: Gwen Stefani. Miss Summer, the guitarist and frontwoman of local surf-rock outfit Rocketship Rocketship, sounds exactly like her — same ornamental trills, throaty growl, and vibrato trip. Her voice perfectly shapes the music, which is fast-paced, impatient, and reverb-heavy. It fits a standard garage template, except that the band enjoys throwing curve balls. (L.I.V.S. Records)

Rocketship Rocketship plays Hemlock Tavern (1131 Polk St., San Francisco) on Sunday, Jan. 8. 9 p.m., $7.

Valerie JanLois, dos

Not everyone will immediately gravitate to Valerie JanLois' strange warble, with its sassily staccato intonation and occasional hint of a foreign accent. That said, she has some sharp little tunes on this album, including a Latin dance number called "Big House" — in which she excoriates either a rich love interest or an indulged peer. Opener "Concise" is fit for a music box. Just skip any song with "Angel" or "Mother" in the title. (Curly Red Records)

The Midnight Snackers, Sudden Death

Self-imposed isolation accounts for both the conceit and methodology behind this album, and it actually works pretty well. Bassist Aaron Sankin, multi-instrumentalist Brendan Ahern (both of arty rock group Dubious Ranger), guitarist-saxophonist Dylan Haas, and drummer Ralph Patterson (both of glam band Aftershocker) barricaded themselves in a studio for three days to write a five-song EP, but the results sound remarkably studied and thought-through. Sure, it's laden with purposefully un-pretty reverb. But it's also humorous and smart. (self-released - Bandcamp)

Feral Cat, Spend Your Flesh

Guitar-drum duos have become increasingly popular in the local garage scene, as more musicians embrace the credo that "less is more," and that, by extension, some rock sounds more interesting without a bassline. Drummer Jessamyn Cuneo and guitarist/ukulele player Paul Montes have found a way to make it work, partly because Montes' melodies are rich enough to stand alone. Both members are better at shouting than singing, and they've written their lyrics accordingly. (self-released)

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