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Bellyfull

Postmodern Ghetto

Bellyfull.net

This quintet mostly lays down instrumentals with jazzy signatures weaved together with funky R&B and the occasional flourish of soulful pop vocals and horns. Postmodern Ghetto was recorded live in Charlotte and the sound is as good as a studio recording. Bellyfull avoids the traps of endless solos of many jam outfits.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

--Samir Shukla

Closet Pop Junkies

Signs

Closetpopjunkies.com

Closet Pop Junkies' melodic pop revolves around the lyrical muse of singer/guitarist Tony Fisher. He penned most of the 10 songs on Signs, a solid collection of pop numbers that could be -- and should be -- spun regularly on VH1 and contemporary rock radio stations.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

--Samir Shukla

Various Artists

Smash the States

Suicidewatchrecords.com

This compilation was gathered and culled by one of North Carolina's hardest working punk acts, My So-Called Band. There are -- count 'em -- 35 tracks on this single disc and most are feisty punk rock ditties laced with attitude, whimsical bombast and political fist-raising. Some of the noteworthy tracks are by Minority Party, The Grahzny Bratchnies, Flamin' Anus, The Dead Kings and of course My So-Called Band.

Rating: 4 stars.

--Samir Shukla

The Talk

The Sinners of Daughters

Morisen.com

There's no denying the Beatles-induced pop influence in The Talk's The Sinners of Daughters. The trio is led by singer/guitarist Justin Williams, and his melodic howl is peppered in all the right places by a cohesive rhythm section. The Talk is proof that a classic guitar/drums/bass line-up is alive and well in rockdom. It's the type of record in which nudging up the volume a notch or two makes life feel sunnier.

Rating: 4 stars.

--Samir Shukla

Wink Keziah

Delux Motel

Winkkeziah.com

Keziah, a singer/songwriter/producer, has logged countless hours working with varied bands and musicians. Several Charlotte regulars, including Jim Brock, Robin Rogers, George "Scoot" Pittman and Rusty Barkley, appear on this rock-tinged country recording. Delux Motel gathers Keziah's road, studio and honky-tonk observations into a record that could be filed under "classic-styled country" or "contemporary Southern music."

Rating: 3 stars.

--Samir Shukla

Dirty Box

Nice

Surfaty

Dirty Box is a mash-up of the bands Kudzu Ganja and . . .It Could Be Nothing. As far as I can tell, the band plays songs about marijuana, sex, boredom, the lack of marijuana, and poseurs. Lead singer Tony James, long underrated (he's among the best local belters of the last 10 years, it says here), shines on Nice, his bored, nyah-nyah sing-song style perfect for the record's THC-laced grooves. Some of the material (see "I Wanna" and "Ridin' with this Muthafucka") might seem a little jokey for the non-sweetleaf-inclined, but take it back a few years and you'll begin to see them as the logical extension of Suicidal Tendencies. Which, smoked out or no, certainly ain't nothing to sneeze (cough?) at.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

--Timothy C. Davis

GoGoPilot

Armageddon Lullabies

(self-released)

Jeff Williams has a history in Charlotte music -- see the long-running Lodestar -- but this latest incarnation of gogoPilot is his most consistently satisfying effort to date. Featuring a crack band comprised of members of Pyramid, Sea of Cortez, the old First Night on Earth and others, the music is more lush than a corn-fed farm girl. It's well suited to Williams' Matthew Sweet-like harmonies -- not the kind of thing to blow your speakers out, but it sounds just dandy on a good pair of headphones.

Rating: 3.5 stars.

--Timothy C. Davis

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