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Mortisha's Secret 

Us Against the World (Empty Records)

"How shall I say this without offending you?" asks Mortisha's Secret singer-guitarist Todd Shay on his band's latest, and we can relate. "I've been listening and watching, and I don't like what I see," he adds a few moments later, encapsulating our thoughts precisely.

Which isn't to say that this middle-of-the-road modern band is awful, just maddeningly average. With alternating vocals from Shay and his wife Missy over hard-charging riffs and a fairly potent rhythm section, Mortisha's Secret has its moments -- particularly on the bruising title cut, on which the two harmonize to good effect, and the driving "Middle Child." Still, none of it is enough to elevate the band above mediocrity. Topped off with truly horrible lyrics and some pretty laughable solos, it all makes us kind of hope that Mortisha keeps this secret to herself.

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