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Recent music from The Van Allen Belt and Ferdinand the Bull

click to enlarge The Van Allen Belt, Heaven on a Branch

The Van Allen Belt
Heaven on a Branch
(Nonstop Everything Records)

In recent years, The Van Allen Belt's local notoriety has just begun to approach proportionality to the band's talent and work ethic. The prolific, hard-touring psych-pop outfit has a new full-length of characteristically deconstructed, spliced and reconstructed tunes, with clever melodies supporting Tamar Kamin's rich, beautiful voice. Some are well-built, lengthy soundscapes, others quirky, short takes (like "This Is the Best Shower I Have Ever Taken"). There's no reason the Animal-Collective-and-Black Moth crowd shouldn't eat this one up.

THE VAN ALLEN BELT CD RELEASE. 9 p.m. Fri., Sept. 26. Brillobox. 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $10. 412-621-4900 or brillobox.net

click to enlarge Ferdinand the Bull

Ferdinand the Bull
Ferdinand the Bull
(Self-released)

Four tracks of decent bluegrass music from the local four-piece. The band's uniqueness stems from its use of a cello as a fourth instrument (complementing the guitar, banjo and bass). The songs are well written; the cello is great when it augments the sound like a fiddle would, but when it plays bass lines, it seems a little redundant. The recording is a little underwhelming, which leads to some issues with vocals and general balance, but the talent underlying the album, along with the novel setup, indicates that this could be a band that goes far. Nice first EP.

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