The Williams Band
Calmer Than You Are
Even for an EP, Calmer Than You Are is short — the longest of the four songs is under four minutes — but The Williams Band makes every second count. It's got the big, polished, radio-ready, Southern-rock sound of a band like Kings of Leon, but with a cooler edge. And strangely enough, here and there, something in the melodies and the guitar tone suggests the Strokes, if the members had grown up in Alabama instead of New York City.
— Margaret Welsh
THE WILLIAMS BAND EP RELEASE with CASINO BULLDOGS, TRIGGERS 9:30 p.m. Fri., Jan. 25. Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $5. 412-621-4900
In Your Face With Love
For some, music is an escape; for others, it's a motivator. Mike Stout is a longtime activist folk-rocker whose tunes often read like current-events lessons, and much of his new In Your Face fits the bill. Labor, the environment and the Occupy movement have a friend in Stout, who spells out his take on shale drilling ("Stop the Frack Attack") and labor rights ("Triangle Shirtwaist Fire") — and, more personally, his daughter and her partner ("Maura and Michael").
— Andy Mulkerin
Debut EP of indie rock that's by turns aggressive, tender and epic. Some reference points would include Pavement and Modest Mouse — that vein of guitar-based music with rather, er, "indie" vocals. (They're not always smooth, but they're not grating — just charmingly wavery, and better when soft than when screamy.) Sometimes the recording falls flat, but it's a debut that makes me want to hear more, and to see Partly Sunny live.
— Andy Mulkerin