Vale and Year
A messy, melancholy pop collage with one foot in alt-country territory and the other in a surrealist landscape entirely its own, Vale and Year's soon-to-be-released Civil is much more than a collection of found-sound surprises. It's an odd and often off-key showcase of a truly inspired folk band -- call them sonic alchemists -- clearly in love with the process of turning complicated emotions into musical gold. Recommended.
Vale and Year celebrates its CD release with Early Day Miners, Karl Hendricks Trio and Adelaide. 9 p.m. Fri., March 25. ModernFormations, 4919 Penn Ave., Garfield. $6. 412-362-0274.
For a band that wears its singular influence so clearly on its collective sleeve (Pavement, circa 1992-94), the newly formed Workshop has released an imminently listenable -- and even somewhat original -- six-song EP. The self-titled, self-released disc is perhaps slowly, sludgier and less influenced by Northern Cali listlessness than Slanted and Enchanted or Crooked Rain, and its great two-person vocal harmonies practically beg for repeated spins. A truly impressive, albeit mighty depressive, first release.
Four Barrel Ghost
Pack It Up!
With song titles like "Pill Poppin' Babysitter" and "Porno Queen" (complete with background moans and groans), you can likely guess what's new from Four Barrel Ghost: not much. Of course, considering that the band's high-octane blend of power-chord cowpunk ain't hardly broke, there's not much call to fix it. Naturally, Pack It Up! is much more a bundle of hard-rock energy than a countrified affair; imagine Reverend Horton Heat, but with more of a street-tough sensibility. My personal favorite? Definitely the slightly psychedelic "Hot Metal Bridge." Way to keep it local.