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A Ballad Alchemy 

Out From Trees (aballadalchemy.org)

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A Ballad Alchemy does everything it can to lay down lush, mellow alt-rock; add a piano to "Leaves of Three," and it'd be a shoo-in for the next Grey's Anatomy soundtrack. But it never quite works. In its most tepid moments of unplugged easy-listening soul-searching, the Akron quartet is never more than five minutes away from hitting you in the teeth with a fistful of rock.

Even during the quiet lulls, the rhythm section can't quite contain itself. Deep in the mix, bassist-keyboardist John Kirk and percussionist Brad Palmer share a hyperactive communion, and the rest of the band finally catches up on the go-for-the-throat "Dark Is the Day," a moody rager that somehow doesn't sound out of place next to the more chill tunes. Singer-guitarist Christian Parfitt strums and exhales the melancholy "Pawn," which could pass for an Elliott Smith leftover. Out From Trees is modern rock done right.

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