Gathered Tones is an apt title for the latest offering from Akron's Trouble Books. The plaintive vocals and loopy keyboard riffs in "Past the New Parking Deck" and "Arms Full of Lemons" recall Stereolab's spacey chamber pop but without the pretension. Because they use analog synthesizers, "From Colfax Place" and "Tropical Islands, Germany" have incredibly warm tones. Given their ability to create pleasant harmonies, it's a bit off-putting that Trouble Books randomly throw ambient noises into the mix, disrupting the otherwise mellow flow. But that's a minor quibble with a carefully crafted album that reflects a Brian Eno-like ability to masterfully manipulate synthesizers and keyboards — Jeff Niesel
Trouble Books perform at 9 p.m. Friday, April 2, at the Happy Dog (5801 Detroit Ave., 216.651.9474, myspace.com/thehappydogcleveland).
Much like Guided by Voices did, Cloud Nothings take their infatuation with British Invasion rock and mix it with an indie-rock sensibility. "Can't Stay Awake" features brittle guitars that lean and lurch with frantic energy. Distorted, high-pitched vocals amplify the title track's psychedelic qualities, and a funky guitar riff propels "You Are Opening." "Strummin'" shows the band can deliver heartfelt ballads when it gives the distortion a rest. These guys probably intended the album to sound like it was recorded in a basement, but the melodies are so sharp, the songs would benefit from cleaner production. — Niesel
Cloud Nothings perform with Tyvek and Love is All at 9 p.m. Sunday, April 4, at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs). Tickets: $8 advance, $10 day of show.
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