CD Reviews: Jesse Pino, The Bitters and Stolas

Folk Rock

Jesse Pino, The Burn EP (Self-released)

In the style of punker-cum-folker Chuck Ragan, Vegas native and Left Standing guitarist Jesse Pino proves to be a slick singer-songwriter. The Burn nicely blends six full-band, Nashville-recorded tracks and four solo-acoustic performances (captured at local bar Money Plays). Too bad two live cuts repeat the studio material, suggesting Pino should pen more tunes. His clear, keening tenor and power-pop panache are impressive, especially on hook-heavy “Have Another.” Tough love with a hug and a smile, sings Pino. An apt précis of his sentimental yet solid music. ★★★☆☆


The Bitters, Live in Vegas (Self-released)

Drummer Frank Klepacki, guitarist Jeff Murphy and bassist Vinny Moncada return with 10 tracks recorded over two performances (virtually unedited) for an appreciative crowd at Double Down Saloon. You don’t need be a King Crimson-phile or Rush-monger to dig riff-layered “Cement Cake” and groove-diving “Hydroplaner,” but it helps. Every track is the sonic equivalent of an atom bomb being constructed and exploded in real time by musical madmen. Sharp but not unlikable, strong but not overwhelming, the Bitters brew stimulating instrumentals. ★★★★☆


Stolas, Living Creatures (Blue Swan)

Signed to Dance Gavin Dance guitarist Will Swan’s label, this Vegas experimental-post-hardcore-screamo-prog-jazz-whatever quartet catapults to the fore of beautiful, aggressive music with this crushing full-length. Highlights include bestial “Medusa,” in which Stolas shredders Jason Weiche and Sergio Medina unleash everything from power-drill solos to Eddie Van Halen fret-board tapping to Pink Floyd-comfy arpeggios. Through it all, Weiche somehow weaves melodic vocals. ★★★☆☆

Disc Scan

Upcoming albums on Jarret’s radar …

MARCH 19: After a successful PledgeMusic campaign, folk-pop troubadour Josh Rouse releases his 10th full-length, the ebullient The Happiness Waltz, recorded in Spain.
MARCH 26: Las Vegas post-hardcore ensemble Caravels unveils Lacuna via Topshelf Records. Alternative Press has been streaming the group’s hellacious track “Hanging Off.”
APRIL 1: Brighton, England indie-rock voyagers British Sea Power set sail again with Machineries of Joy, the band’s warmest, most expansive effort yet.

APRIL 2: Brooklyn’s Caveman forges lush, atmospheric music, especially on the band’s self-titled sophomore disc. Lead single “In the City” simmers with moody, majestic synths and soaring vocals. (Caveman bangs into Beauty Bar at 10 p.m. March 22.)

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James Franco Plays a Not-So-Wonderful Wizard of Oz


James Franco Plays a Not-So-Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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