It shouldn't come as too huge of a surprise that Sodajerk's new self-titled release is packed with some of the most polished and well-produced alt-country you're likely to stumble across in Western Pennsylvania, let alone this side of the Appalachians. True, the first half is a bit more spirited than the second, and if you're looking for a yinzer-rock clunker, skip straight to track 6, "The Ugly Truth." (Or don't.) That said, Sodajerk is the perfect soundtrack for your next shot-and-a-beer house party, no small thanks to Bucky Goldstein's smart lyrics and Wilco-meets-Son Volt vocalisms. (Recommended.) Dan Eldridge
Click here to listen to Sodajerk's "Handcuffs."
Classic 1824 Presents: Rebel Music Mixtape
Forgive the church references, but the songs of Rebel Music Mixtape are like hymns and gospels for those needing sanctuary from the volumes of "Beef" mixtapes flooding the streets. The songs are by members of the recently reinstated RXC hip-hop collective, who indulge issues of rebellion and freedom against oppression. Standout tracks include Living Proofe's "The Legend of a Necessary Blackman" and the "National Ghetto-Graphic" remix performed by CI and Angel Eye, rap's new Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver. Production by T.R.I.B.E. is a problem waiting to happen in Pittsburgh. Brentin Mock
The Dewey Dangerous System
It's tough to tell whether Marvin Dioxide are one of the city's best new indie pop acts or simply a colossal joke; its self-released long-player lives somewhere in between the lo-fi dork rock of Beat Happening and the D.I.Y. sincerity of an urban folk outfit. A Velvet Underground for the recycled-bicycle-and-Dumpster-diver set? Not exactly, but something close. And happily, The Dewey Dangerous System gets increasingly odd once it hits the halfway mark, including a toe-tapping track about electric cars that disses Ed Begley Jr. and Danny Glover. Definitely weird, and definitely promising. DE
Hot on the heels of the Motorpsychos' recent sweep at the K-Rock Winter Rock Challenge comes Piston Whipped, an even mix of metal-punk that sounds like it might have been written in 1995. Or even '85. (As opposed to 2005.) But the power chords and menacing growls on tracks like "Primer" are cut with well-placed humor and even a few relatively chilled-out, straight rock songs. Perfect for fans of Motorhead metal, Misfits iconography and mosh-pit memories. DE