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click to enlarge Bayside   -  - Acoustic  - Victory  -  - By its very nature, emo music tackles the heartstrings - with tales of struggle and loss. For New York-based - Bayside, such travails became reality last fall when - drummer John "Beatz" Holohan was killed in a tour bus - accident that also resulted in a broken back for bassist - Nick Ghanbarian. After a few weeks off, saddened band - members Anthony Raneri and Jack O'Shea pressed on as - an acoustic duo in tribute to their bandmates. The result - of that tour is the EP/DVD Acoustic, which is - more like an unplugged album for diehard fans. - Although it features versions of songs from their self- - titled 2005 album, the cornerstone of the new release is - "Winter." Somewhat banal lyrics ("An angel got his wings - and we'll hold our heads up knowing that he's fine") are - reason enough for this well-intentioned song to fall flat. - But rising above the triteness is the emotion of the - Bayside survivors. For once, an emo band's tears are - legitimized.  John Benson
  • Bayside

    Acoustic

    Victory

    By its very nature, emo music tackles the heartstrings with tales of struggle and loss. For New York-based Bayside, such travails became reality last fall when drummer John "Beatz" Holohan was killed in a tour bus accident that also resulted in a broken back for bassist Nick Ghanbarian. After a few weeks off, saddened band members Anthony Raneri and Jack O'Shea pressed on as an acoustic duo in tribute to their bandmates. The result of that tour is the EP/DVD Acoustic, which is more like an unplugged album for diehard fans. Although it features versions of songs from their self- titled 2005 album, the cornerstone of the new release is "Winter." Somewhat banal lyrics ("An angel got his wings and we'll hold our heads up knowing that he's fine") are reason enough for this well-intentioned song to fall flat. But rising above the triteness is the emotion of the Bayside survivors. For once, an emo band's tears are legitimized. John Benson

click to enlarge Mates of State  -  - Bring it Back  - Barsuk  -  - Throughout their relatively brief career, Mates of State - the wife/husband team of Kori Gardner (organ/vocals) - and Jason Hammel (drums/vocals)  has promised - sugar-coated indie rock with a tasty center. And while - their first three albums (including 2003's Team - Boo) showed glimpses of potential, the material - ultimately was a mixed bag, rarely offering complete - aural transcendence. Finally, Mates of State achieve - greatness with their latest album, Bring it Back, - which features lush pop melodies supported by intricate - vocal harmonies and clever songwriting. The experience - culminates with the closer "Running Out": Gardner - creates an atmosphere of relationship misery with - heartfelt vocals over an organ grind, while Hammel's - percussion moves things forward, eventually blistering - into a noisy din of indie-rock bliss. This is Mates of - States' coming-out party, for the world to enjoy. -  John Benson
  • Mates of State

    Bring it Back

    Barsuk

    Throughout their relatively brief career, Mates of State the wife/husband team of Kori Gardner (organ/vocals) and Jason Hammel (drums/vocals) has promised sugar-coated indie rock with a tasty center. And while their first three albums (including 2003's Team Boo) showed glimpses of potential, the material ultimately was a mixed bag, rarely offering complete aural transcendence. Finally, Mates of State achieve greatness with their latest album, Bring it Back, which features lush pop melodies supported by intricate vocal harmonies and clever songwriting. The experience culminates with the closer "Running Out": Gardner creates an atmosphere of relationship misery with heartfelt vocals over an organ grind, while Hammel's percussion moves things forward, eventually blistering into a noisy din of indie-rock bliss. This is Mates of States' coming-out party, for the world to enjoy. John Benson

click to enlarge Keller & The Keels  -  - Grass   - Self-released  -  - Keller Williams has long been a favorite at summer - festivals. His high-energy, anything-goes approach is as - enjoyable to watch as it is to hear. On his latest effort, a - collaboration with acoustic masters Jenny and Larry Keel, - Williams mixes his originals ("Goof Balls," "Local") with - well-chosen covers. Some of the covered material is - obvious bluegrass-picking fare ("Dupree's Diamond - Blues" and Jeff Austin's "New Horizons"), but the disc - truly achieves something unique when the trio tackles - songs not meant for bluegrass, like Pink Floyd's "Another - Brick in the Wall." An inventive rip on Jerry Garcia and - Robert Hunter's "Loser" mixes the Grateful Dead classic - with Beck's mega-hit. In true Keller fashion, the - instrumentation of Grass is gorgeous and - riveting; the Keels complement William's style with - dignity and aplomb. This disc is worth its cost in the first - three cuts, and should further solidify Keller Williams as - one of the modern age's most ingenious acoustic - musicians.  Jesse Stanek
  • Keller & The Keels

    Grass

    Self-released

    Keller Williams has long been a favorite at summer festivals. His high-energy, anything-goes approach is as enjoyable to watch as it is to hear. On his latest effort, a collaboration with acoustic masters Jenny and Larry Keel, Williams mixes his originals ("Goof Balls," "Local") with well-chosen covers. Some of the covered material is obvious bluegrass-picking fare ("Dupree's Diamond Blues" and Jeff Austin's "New Horizons"), but the disc truly achieves something unique when the trio tackles songs not meant for bluegrass, like Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." An inventive rip on Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter's "Loser" mixes the Grateful Dead classic with Beck's mega-hit. In true Keller fashion, the instrumentation of Grass is gorgeous and riveting; the Keels complement William's style with dignity and aplomb. This disc is worth its cost in the first three cuts, and should further solidify Keller Williams as one of the modern age's most ingenious acoustic musicians. Jesse Stanek

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