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Graceland Mafia- Mick Harvey- Robbers on High Street- The Oohlas- My Machine- The American Black Lung- Attack Formation- The Actual

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Graceland Mafia - Blacktop
3.5 stars

The Graceland Mafia is a band of epic portions. Like a fried peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich. They are salty, sweet and will stick to the roof of your mouth. Founded by Melvis "The King" Dupree and Jimbo "Machinegun" Williams, the Mafia claims to be "Orange County's Undisputed Kings of non-rockabilly".

Do not write the rockabilly and passion for Elvis off as a throwaway novelty. The Graceland Mafia earns a reputation as a rowdy live band that will rip the poodle right off your skirt. The band's newest release, Blacktop, compensates for poor sound quality with energetic performances across hot-rod driving originals and a few choice Elvis covers.

Somebody get them a ticket out of OC so they can come to my town.

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Mick Harvey - Two of Diamonds
4 stars

Australian Mick Harvey has worked in the music business for many years. Most notably as a premium member of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. Two of Diamonds is his second original solo album and follows on the heels of his first, 2005's One Man's Treasure.

The album is dark and gritty, yet mellow and smooth at the same time. Those are contradictory terms but somehow fit the mood. Harvey's voice cuts through the classic acoustic work and organ textures that provide music with no time stamp. The lyrics are fantastic. There are not enough good things to say.

Thankfully, Harvey destroys the typical singer/songwriter mold. That is reason enough to pick this up and blow the John Mayer out of your nose.

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Robbers on High Street - Grand Animals
3.5 stars

What a pleasant surprise. Usually a band labeled alternative/indie is not much more than self-indulgent howling and screeching guitar noises. Robbers on High Street are wonderfully tuneful, while still throwing a few curveballs to hold on to some of that indie cred.

The band walks a fine line between accessible and too smart for its own good. It is a good combination. We should be able to ask for a little more intelligence from our pop bands and a little more earthiness from out indie bands.

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The Oohlas - Best Shop Pop
3 stars

The Oohlas are notable as the new band of the ex drummer of Everclear and his brother. Best Shop Pop is an unabashed ode to early 90s alt rock, with the pop hooks that gave those grunge hangars-on such big hits. Add the female voice of a plucky alterna-girl and it might as well be 1994 again.

There is a reason those bands were so popular, it was good pop music. The Oohlas may be a decade late but they are still a simple pleasure.

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My Machine - Crushed
3 stars

My Machine is a by-the-numbers metal band of the 2000s. With a dash of nu-metal, some melody and the sing/scream vocals they are exactly what you would expect from a band that probably grew up listening to Korn and Godsmack.

Crushed is the kind of faceless rock that could provide entrance themes for at least four pro wrestlers.

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The American Black Lung - Sudden Departure of Vultures
3 stars

Tucson, AZ's American Black Lung summons a few thrashy riffs and a healthy dose of punk energy. Vocalist Diamond Rhino apes the tuneless shouts of old school hardcore bands. It is too bad, if he actually sang these songs would be infinitely more memorable.

Nevertheless, this band should please angry white teenagers immensely.

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Attack Formation - Recording #9
3 stars

With some electric blues, dance beats and a few quirky touches, Attack Formation sounds like an interesting band, on paper. They would be a great band on record if they would just ditch the between song gimmicks and ridiculous intros and just got on with the bloody song.

Recording #9 will test your patience frequently and never delivers on the wait. The little puzzle pieces they provide are fascinating, it is the whole picture that feels like a jumbled mess.

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The Actual - In Stitches
3 stars

In Stitches is not a revelation for the pop/rock mold. It is a decently respectable album with some catchy hooks and memorable songs. The band is much better when the pick up the pace on tracks like "Stay in My Rectangle". A little more bit would suite this band well and help separate them from the crop of faceless emo bands.

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