Douglas Lowell Blevins
There's something refreshing about a straight-up rock record, sans the "indie." Douglas Lowell Blevins, a Pittsburgh native, brings the big riffs, steel guitars and, yes, even some guitar solos on his Cruel Variations EP. Blevins smoothly navigates blues, Americana and old-fashioned rock 'n' roll, and he luckily doesn't fall into the trap of Black Keys- or Ty Segall-imitation.
On opener "Hit The Lights," Blevins promises a lover he'll say exactly what's on his mind, and he keeps this promise for the EP's entirety, exploring frustration on "How It Goes," pursuing dreams on "Keep on Giving" and kiss analysis on "Kiss Like." Sometimes, the lyrical content can be a little too on-the-nose and familiar, but as a quick, 20-minute chunk of rock, Cruel Variations hits the mark more often than not.
— Shawn Cooke
DOUGLAS LOWELL BLEVINS with MISS TESS AND THE TALKBACKS, THE ARMADILLOS. 7 p.m. Thu., Feb. 12. Club Café, 56 S. 12th St., South Side. $10. 412-431-4950
Taylor Gang member Chevy Woods dropped the third installment of his Gangland series last week. The Hazelwood native delivers 13 tracks, with original beats from ID Labs, Ricky P, Sonny Digital and Zaytoven, to name a few, on a mixtape hosted by DJ Holiday from Tha Commision collective, out of Atlanta. Woods' unique flow matches well with the production. Woods also released the visual for "Shooters," the mixtape's lead single. At press time, Gangland 3 had reached over 30,000 downloads on Datpiff.com.
— Michael Crandle