Johnny Marr, Daniel Romano, Pissed Jeans 

Sound Advice

click to enlarge Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr

The Messenger

Sire Records

File next to: Television, Soundtrack of Our Lives

Some Smiths fans are reticent to forgive Johnny Marr for waiting 20 years to make a proper solo album. A few go so far as to call The Messenger an '80s throwback, lost in a time warp of Morrissey-style croons and sparkly guitars. If only all time-traps sounded this good. Besides, Marr makes this a 21st-century product by fortifying his Smiths-like riffs with lessons of '90s and '00s guitar bands, including his work as second guitarist to Isaac Brock in Modest Mouse. Sure, the lyrics in a few songs like "Upstarts" can get a little silly, but no more than those of Tom Verlaine or Jim Carroll. In his favor, Marr's voice is more than adequate, at times sounding almost better than Morrissey's, if that sacrilege can be permitted. Each of the dozen songs on this album is pregnant with riff and portent, making this a contender for one of 2013's best releases. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge Daniel Romano

Daniel Romano

Come Cry With Me

New West Records

File next to: Blue Rodeo, Patsy Cline

It's a story often told and seldom true, that of the young artist who conjures up the ghost of a bygone era so flawlessly that it's downright eerie. Except that, in Daniel Romano's case, the story actually is true. Cover photo notwithstanding, the 27-year-old refugee from multi-hyphenated Canadian band Attack in Black is no indie dilettante playing the role of rhinestone cowboy with varying degrees of irony. The sublime harmonies, poignant lyrics and tremolo twang of "He Lets Her Memory Go (Wild)" are as good as you'll find from any new country artist, while the live acoustic "A New Love (Can Be Found)" takes a more subtle path to unsuspecting heartstrings. Not all of Come Cry With Me is as immediately impressive — it's kind of hard to imagine how a full album could be — but every bit of it is well worth hearing. — Bill Forman

click to enlarge Pissed Jeans

Pissed Jeans



File next to: Off!, Black Flag, Fucked Up

It's interesting to track the similar trajectories of the two hardcore bands with the most quasi-profane names in the industry: Pissed Jeans and Fucked Up. Both started life as high-speed growlers, reviving an early '80s sweat-filled bluster. Both have tried to evolve their sounds to include unusual time signatures and other tricks to transcend their roots. In 2011, FU released a sprawling conceptual punk opera, David Comes to Life, and managed to make it work. Pissed Jeans are more modest in their aims, but still go for lyrical spoken word as well as unexpected instrumentation in songs like "Cafeteria Food" and "You're Different (in Person)." Honeys is their best release to date. And while hardcore punk can be just as limited a genre as death metal, PJ and FU are clearly the two bands best positioned to break the boundaries of their genre with something completely new. — Loring Wirbel

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