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Atlas
Atlas EP
(self-released)

In five songs clocking in at just over 20 minutes, Atlas makes a show of its versatility: While maintaining a contemporary vibe, the band jumps from gypsy rock ("Breathe In") to post-new wave ("At the Water's Edge") and danceable post-punk. It's not disjointed, though -- a tribute to the band's chemistry and direction. The vocals leave a little to be desired, but certainly aren't bad -- all in all, a solid debut. By Andy Mulkerin

 

Ben Valasek
Under the Peach Tree
(self-released)

Singer-songwriter Ben Valasek augments acoustic rock with subtle instrumentation -- cello, horns, harmonica -- and a sense of dramatic timing. Valasek's lyrics don't quite match his vocal prowess, but they're memorable, whether serious ("Better"), sentimental ("This Old Town") or silly ("PDA on the Playground"). By Aaron Jentzen

 

The Sablowskis
The Sablowskis
(self-released)

The self-titled debut by The Sablowskis is solid Iron City punk -- throaty vocals and snarling guitars crossed with danceable rock 'n' roll. Recorded by Jason Jouver, the album packs a fierce wallop, and songs like "Lush Life" are perfect for your next bar crawl. By Aaron Jentzen

 

The Wreckids
Sycamore EP
(self-released)

Catchy acoustic pop and killer vocal harmonies are a vehicle for The Wreckids' biting wisecracks. It works even with lyrics about bodies "mangled and spurting" and songs about all the things one can fashion from a turd (including "modern art"). No turds on this wry EP. By Aaron Jentzen

 

Mark Adam Trimpey
A Line Nearly Broken
(self-released)

A lovely pop voice and slick, sophisticated arrangements shine on this album by Mark Adam Trimpey. Still, over acoustic strums or arty funk, Trimpey's lyrics rarely veer from earnest introspection and relationship drama. Even U2 knew one "With or Without You" was enough. By Aaron Jentzen

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