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April 24, 2007

CD Reviews

Some Midnight Kissin’Dark Romantics(LUJO)<stylish>    The glamour that’s arrived on the rock scene lately has received a warm welcome from many, even while detractors knock The Killers and dance-focused brethren like The Rapture for straying too far from the substance and seeming too much like a rock band. That criticism, of course, lacks merit because style has always been part of the rock game. The standout track from Dark Romantics debut album — “Another Song for Another Night” — wears its Johnny Marr influences on its sleeve, and that certainly isn’t a bad thing. Similarly, in “A Million Bucks,” the tambourine and handclaps are addictive. And yet the greatness of glam godfathers Bolan and Bowie was imbedded in how their showmanship was tied to the lyricism of the persona, and for all the lambasting here, there are few stories and less insight in E. Collins’ words. The dead-ended symbolism of “She’s a Fire” laid across rollicking beats is prime of example of the album’s incongruities. Like so much of “Some Midnight Kissin’,” the vocoder at the end of “Hey Love” is similarly nifty, but the gadgetry can only do so much with such a void of lyrical imagination at its core. —Patrick MulloyDashboardStonewheel(SELF-RELEASED)<bravery>Somewhere Brian Wilson is applauding the brave attempt Stonewheel took in channeling what the Beach Boys brought to the table in the ’60s and ’70s, and making it relevant in their own music today. Fast-paced, enthusiastic tracks, written by lead vocalist Morgan Shallcross, are what bring this Louisville band’s music to life. This new album feels like a true representation of a time long-gone. Through catchy songs and bohemian lyrics, the group avoids clichés in favor of fresh, unpredictable material. “Go for Gin,” “Santa Ana Winds” and the title track bring personality and a sense of true individuality. Dashboard has a great name and sound for a great summer-time soundtrack. Give a listen, and just relax. Stonewheel plays at 8 p.m. Friday at Dark Star Tavern, 2636 Frankfort Ave., 896-2800. —Andrew SellingerBeautiful CaliforniaCassette(ATOMISK)<renewal>    Originally released in fall of 2005, Beautiful California has been re-released due to renewed interest, and it’s easy to see why. With 35 tracks — most less than a minute long — the collection explores a wide array of emotions and musical genres, making it a revolutionary musical offering.      Both Smith’s voice and the stylistic blends he produces are intriguing.  Disco, funk, classical, rock and pop are all represented — sometimes even blended into a delicious concoction. Smith is heartfelt, energetic and clever. At once serenading his computer for never letting him down while creating a very emotional and human tone with his music, Smith shows a talent for humor and irony that is too often lacking in contemporary music.    There is less despair than I expected from a solo musician. In fact, the whole collection tends toward optimism, moving steadily toward some satisfying light. Finally, Smith’s skill at arranging cannot be overstated.  Ambient sounds and full-fledged rock ’n’ roll phrases are intuitively stitched, producing a pleasant listening experience. —David Salvo