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Doc & the Rocket Scientists; Omerta get graded

Doc & the Rocket Scientists

The Jungle

(self-released)

Myspace.com/doctherocketscientists

There's a whiff of hippie nostalgia to this odd band, which features lead guitarist/vocalist Tim Bauman and former McKendree Spring violinist Michael Dreyfuss. The Jungle is dreamy, minimalist folk with touches of rock, which credits literary inspiration for some of the tracks — a sort of awkward collision of Palace and the Cowboy Junkies. "Traveling" and "The Philosopher" have a meandering, ruminative, homespun tone suited to Bauman's rough-edged voice, while "Purgatory" and "The Empty Cup" add a little rock. Elisa Hapanowicz brings her quavering, unschooled vocals to several tracks like "Don't Let Go," a rootsy rocker propelled by Dreyfuss' graceful violin. The title track, inspired by Upton Sinclair's harrowing 1906 novel about the meatpacking industry, sums up the band's weirdness. Bauman intones the stream-of-consciousness lyrics affectlessly and without urgency to sparse music featuring mostly twinkly guitar — until a rock-style lead comes out of the blue. — Anastasia Pantsios

Omerta

(self-released)

myspace.com/theomerta

We're not sure what to make of this EP. On one hand, tunes like "Be My Fix" and "Rise of the Martyr" verge on metal. On the other hand, "Sharp Contrast of Tomorrow" has a pop-punk feel, recalling Blink-182. Then there's the power ballad "Kill Caroline," which puts a Nightranger-like guitar solo smack dab in the middle. The song contrasts sharply with the esoteric, semi-acoustic "Absolve." One thing is for certain: Harmony vocals are not the band's forte. The backing vocals are often off-key, making you think that singer-guitarist Joey Ariemma should handle all the singing vocals, though he too has trouble singing on key. The five songs here are just too schizophrenic to really suggest that these guys — all of whom play quite well — have a clear sense of where they want to take this band. — Jeff Niesel

Omerta performs at 7 p.m. Saturday, November 14, at the Jolly Scholar (11111 Euclid Ave., 216.368.0921, facebook.com/jollyscholar). FREE.

Hear music from Paranoid Lovesick, Doc & the Rocket Scientists and Omerta at clevescene.com/kickingandstreaming

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