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Sound Check

7/23/2014

Little AmericaRed Wanting Blue

“Little America”

Fanatic Records

Depending on how you look at it, Little America’s opening track, “Hallelujah,” is either the best or worst track to start the album. On the plus side, it’s a tremendous table-setter with its huge, sweeping sound and frontman Scott Terry’s Marcus Mumford-esque vocals. Everything about the track feels big and momentous, and it’s the best kind of track to stick in the car and go tearing down the highway to. Unfortunately, everything after that comes off as kind of a letdown by comparison. That’s not to say that Little America is bad (with the possible exception of “Dumb Love,” which is, in fact, just dumb), but nothing deeper into the album comes anywhere close to the same scope and feel of the opener. So really, it’s less about an album going downhill from the get-go, so much as it’s an album starting with a bit of false advertising. CV

Holly and the Night OwlsHolly & The Night Owls

HIV

Self-titled

Nova Labs

Holly & The Night Owls is an act that’s really just the barest hint of a band. It’s a stripped-down sound that leaves the vocalist naked and alone out in front of everything. Luckily for the Night Owls, Holly Figueroa is more than up to that task. She’s an absolute joy to listen to, with vocals that sounded to me like how Poe might sound, if Poe were a happier, less tortured person. Figueroa is joined by bassist Caleb Swank and drummer Vedran Surlan, with assists here and there from Chris Ford, Brian Stout, Claire Kruessel and others, but those vocals are at the heart of everything, and the end result is one of the more pleasant local surprises of the year. CV

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