(Local) CD Reviews

Deadhand, Number 3 Pencils EP and Sugar in the Tank


Deadhand Deadhand (Self-released)

Deadhand is so frickin’ deadly live I initially refused to hear the power trio’s debut for fear the studio (Hurley in Costa Mesa, Calif., where Weezer cut Hurley) failed to bottle lightning. My fear evaporated when I finally slipped this CD into my car stereo and blew out the speakers. With mixing assistance from Vegas boy genius Ian Shane Tyler, Deadhand delivers nine superbly crafted, pummeling songs—think the Replacements getting hammered in Squeeze’s pub. Singer/guitarist Brendan Scholz even writes bridges—those little interludes that harmonically connect verse and chorus. Combine Scholz’s tune-smithing and shredding six-string chops with the best rhythm section in town (bassist Jarred Cooper, drummer Aaron Weislogel) and you have the perfect rock ’n’ roll beast. “Back Up” provides a barrage of struttin’ riffs and melodic hooks, while “Taste” rockets off the line like a fiery dragster and never relents. Darkly clever lyrics for the indie kids; lacerating chords for the punks; solos for the metalheads. Deadhand has all the aces. ★★★★☆


Number 3 Pencils Number 3 Pencils EP (Self-released)

This rock quartet (with members from now-defunct Wall Street Vampire and the Originators) got its start in Florida before transplanting to Vegas. You can hear the buoyant, psychedelic, Southern-rock, Sunscreen State sensibility in every note and groove of this fresher-than-a-grove-picked-orange, just-add-beer party disc. Not the hugest fan of the genre (which comes perilously close to the “jam-band” category, in my opinion). Still, I find myself spinning syrupy-sweet “Southern Belle” in the afternoon before jumping into my pool, while the shout-along chorus of funky rocker “Reassurance” is an ongoing guilty pleasure. Singer/guitarist Ely Bascoy and Pakistan-born drummer (and Candy Warpop kit-smasher) Anisa Buttar put lead in Number 3 Pencils with an ability to both play in the pocket and let their musical hair down during each song’s rowdy buildup. Keyboardist Woz is the secret weapon, though; you won’t need umbrella shade once you’re sheltered in the B-3 Hammond chords of island-tinged “Big, Big Feelings.” ★★★☆☆


The Lucky Cheats Sugar in the Tank (Rankoutsider)

Singer/bassist Luke Metz sidelined his garage-punk outfit the Holy Smokes to explore his grittier, party-animal side with the Lucky Cheats, featuring drummer Joe Perv Mascolino. The band’s debut comprises 10 blues jams designed to get bar crawlers dancing. If it’s a calculated effort by Metz to conquer the Strip, it’ll work. His originals—especially “The Devil Walks in Tennessee”—sound like raucous Buddy Guy songs that Guy never got around to writing. Lyrics are a bit throwaway, but energy emanates from harp player Jeff Koenig and guitarist Wade Braggs. Metz and Mascolino are no slouches, either, locking into powerful Chicago-style grooves. Guests abound: Shanda Cisneros sings “Been Told Once,” organist Michael Bacich wails on “It Wasn’t Me” and pedal-steel player Thom Ferman turns “Interstate” into a truckin’ tune. Local pinup girl Sabina Kelley sweetens the album cover. Va-voom!  ★★★☆☆

Suggested Next Read

Blowin’ It


Blowin’ It

By Jarret Keene

Being the lone trumpet player in an alt-rock band seems to be a willful act of irony. Sure, the Rolling Stones often tour with a horn section, but Cake is about as far from cocky blues-rock as you can get. Guitarist Xan McCurdy refuses to use reverb; drummer Paulo Baldi’s kit attack is as arid as Death Valley; bassist Gabe Nelson plods along like a sure-footed dinosaur; and frontman John McCrea’s voice can best be described as a vivacious bari-monotone.



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