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Reviewed this week: Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, Winterpills and Trailer Trash Tracys

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers

Gift Horse

(Vanguard)

Though almost delayed by an accident—the majority of the band was involved in a serious car wreck on the eve of recording—the latest from these New England natives is a gem from start to finish. Opening with the infectious strummer "Gravity," the album immediately thrusts you into the studio with the boys, complete with hand-claps, a sing-along chorus and twinkling piano. Elsewhere, the semi-biographical song "1993" showcases the camaraderie the group often brings to its live shows with bouncy bass lines and humorous cat-calls frequently accenting singer Kellogg's words. Still, it's in the spot-on character sketches where the members truly prove their worth as songwriters. The band balances nostalgia and maturity to come up with something totally original. —Michael Cimaomo

*

Winterpills

All My Lovely Goners

(Signature Sounds)

The opening tune of All My Lovely Goners, "We Turned Away," feels like the years-later flowering of seeds Philip Price sowed as songwriter for The Maggies. It's got a similarly moody, spacious '60s vibe, propelled by tight harmonies and string-section underpinnings. Price's love for the sounds of the '60s is never too far away in the rollicking progressions and vocal styles, but in tunes like "Small Bright Doses," delay-fueled electric guitar parts take things into a rock-tinged brand of modern folk. Where some past Winterpills efforts have steered a more purely contemplative course, this album is a full-voiced realization of many influences, a deft combining of contemplation, pop, rock, and even psychedelia. With All My Lovely Goners, Winterpills seem to have fully taken up the mantle of their wintry calling. —James Heflin

*

Trailer Trash Tracys

Ester

(Double Six/Domino)

Pigeonholed as "noise-pop" by the music press, the Trailer Trash Tracys write simple, retro-powered pop songs and then keelhaul them through fathoms of reverb, distortion, electronic diddling and psychedelic noise. The result is a bit disorienting—though the songs bear pleasing cores of melody and harmony, they're smothered in interjected drum machine seizures, gratuitous Eddie Van Halen-like guitar arpeggios and other purely sonic intrusions that leave a listener's musical taste buds sputtering from an over-salted half-shell of aural clams casino. Still, singer Suzanne Aztoria has a voice and vibe that create some level of irresistibly sensuous charm, especially on more traditionally formed ditties like "Candy Girl." It's hard to guess where they'll be in five years, but their liner notes credit a "spiritual advisor," so I imagine they'll be fine. —Tom Sturm

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