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New releases from Brandon Locher, The Nancy McKeen Bluz Machine and The Nied's Hotel Band

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Brandon Locher
Conversations, 2012
(My Idea of Fun)

OK, so it's not music, but this sound-art release is pretty genius: Johnstown's Locher began by recording one phone call to a business in which he said nothing, then called another business and played back the audio he collected from the first call. He then repeated over and over, with each new conversation — between one live human and one recording — longer and more complex than the rest. The natural rhythms of human conversation become evident, and the result is a fascinating string of benign prank calls.

The Nancy McKeen Bluz Machine
Altared
(Self-released)

The latest entry from the local four-piece, fronted by the young McKeen, who's backed up by three more established players. The band has shown progress since last year's Three Jacks and a Jill, though there are points during the new EP when it feels like things are lagging, and not quite together. The country-ish "Waltz of Redemption" provides a refreshing change of pace at the end and finds McKeen nearly channeling Jolie Holland. 

The Nied's Hotel Band
Side One
(Self-released)

Immaculately produced rock from the band of longtime local personalities. (Lead singer John Vento has been known for his solo work, and drummer Ron Beitle played in Wild Cherry when that band had its biggest hit.) Some dance-y numbers, some heartstring-tugging ballads, some Springsteen aspirations (especially with that sax involved). Sometimes they lay it on a bit thick, but there's no doubt they're top-notch musicians.

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