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Nicholas Megalis and Stalemate

NICHOLAS MEGALIS

Pagan Pecan

(self-released)

zandard.com

Nicholas Megalis keeps getting better ... and weirder. On this five-song EP (which is available as a free download), the 20-year-old singer-songwriter mines some familiar territory — T. Rex-style stomp-n-roll, avant-rock rambles — and stretches out into some truly mind-fucking areas. He distorts his voice on most of the songs, to the point where the fuzzy buzz becomes another instrument in the layered dish. "Where Every 1 Gos 2 Die" flips courses about a half-dozen times during its two-and-a-half minutes (none of Pagan Pecan's songs reach the three-and-a-half minute mark), even toying with a big pop chorus before breaking down. The wobbly "The Concept of Disorder and Psychopathology" lives up to its tile. But best is "U Worship Everything Around U," a mostly instrumental track that rides a bubbling loop over hazy anti-consumerist/-religion sentiments. It's a brain-cleansing blowout for one of Cleveland's most exciting young artists.

Michael Gallucci

Nicholas Megalis performs with Below Jupiter at 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 22, at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, beachlandballroom.com ). Tickets: $5.

STALEMATE

Silhouettes & Syllables

(self-released)

myspace.com/stalemateohio

Formed in 2001 as Tooth Fuzz, these guys have been kicking around Northeast for almost 10 years now, and the Silhouettes & Syllables' sound reaches back to late '90s alt-rock. The trio evoke the loud/quiet dynamics of Nirvana on the grungey "What I Want to Believe" and recall the call-and-response approach of Jimmy Eat World on the emo-ish "My Best Excuse." While this is ostensibly their attempt to show how they've evolved, the guys don't sound entirely comfortable being all grown up and stuff. Singer-guitarist Jason Kaminski doesn't have the pipes to carry "Ghost Town" or "Going Through the Motions." He fares better on the acoustic ballad "Forgot the Name/Ballerina Girl," a sad song about going home alone on a Saturday night that suggests Stalemate are taking baby steps toward musical maturity. — Jeff Niesel

Stalemate performs with Ten Count Fall at 8 p.m. Friday, January 22, at JB's (244 North Water St., Kent, 330.678.8001, myspace.com/fatjimmys), and as part of Fearfest 2010 at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 23, at the Phantasy (11802 Detroit Ave. 216.228.6300, phantasyconcertclub.net). Tickets: $7 (JB's) and $5 (Phantasy).

More by Michael Gallucci

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