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Dirty on Purpose 

Hallelujah Sirens (North Street Records)

Dirty on Purpose hails from Brooklyn, New York, but its song "Lake Effect" epitomizes the pain you feel wiping a foot of snow off your car on a gray Monday morning in Cleveland. It's five and a half minutes of cello, precisely placed piano notes, and lithe harmonies to wallow in while Lake Erie's bitter winds sting your cheeks. "Car No Driver" stands out for the layers the band can pile up without diluting the song's substance, rewarding repeated listens.

The album is actually easy to dismiss, since it doesn't seem like anything you haven't heard before -- like more than 10 years ago. But there's a lot beneath the surface. If you reach even further back in the history books, the vocals on "Your Summer Dress" suggest an indie-pop-infused remake of "Rainbow Connection." But unlike Kermit, the band truly emerges, as much with its mellow melodies and sophisticated arrangements as its musical abilities.

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