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Xero Gravity And Life After August

Xero Gravity

The Best of Xero Gravity

(self-released)

xerogravity.com

Aloha! Former Clevelander Jose L. Ortiz Sr. kicked around town in bands such as Graf and Coconut before leaving the North Coast for the North Shore (Hawaii, that is) a few years back. He recently compiled his best material from Xero Gravity, a classic-rock-sounding band for which he currently plays drums, on this 11-tune disc. Can't say there's much new and inventive here (though Ortiz proudly states he's the first to record an entire CD with a "handsonic-hdp-15," whatever that is). Opening track "American Soldier" has its heart in the right place, but it's hard to get past the off-key vocals. The same goes for "Free" and "Get It Right," both of which feature some fine fretwork. In fact, the musicianship is solid throughout, but it sounds like the band still hasn't found the vocalist it's looking for. - Jeff Niesel

Life After August

Instinct

(Gray Haven Music)

lifeafteraugust.com

Life After August formed after the death of a friend of a band member's brother who served in the war. As a result, each song signifies every day that's being lived after his unfortunate death. The death of a loved one isn't the only thing inspiring this particular band. Its musical influences are very transparent on this debut: "San Diego" recalls the pop-punk of Hawthorne Heights, and "Forever Ends Tonight" is similar to Fall Out Boy's emo. All this inspiration doesn't exactly make the band a groundbreaker, but it does serve honorably the memory of Lance Cpl. Brian Montgomery. - Erika Schramm

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