Deadbeat PoetsCircus Town
Led by singer-bassist Frank Secich (from Blue Ash) and singer-guitarist Terry Hartman (Backdoor Men), this Youngstown super group also includes two former Infidels — guitarist Pete Drivere and drummer John Koury, both capable singers. The songs on Circus Town run the gamut: "Madras Man"'s narrative is structured a lot like a Bob Dylan tune, and there's a country twang to "So This Is Indiana." Through it all, the songwriting is outstanding. No matter the genre, the tracks here have sharp hooks and memorable melodies. Meticulously produced and engineered by Drivere, the album holds up next to anything by classic singer-songwriters like Graham Parker and Marshall Crenshaw. — Jeff Niesel
Electronic music doesn't have to suck. But after the success of innovators like Aphex Twin and Moby, middle-of-the-road stuff tends to sound pretty mundane. With an offering of "fresh original beats," Akron's Snareburst don't bring anything new to the genre. "Synthetic Side Show," a seven-minute collection of metallic noises with some random vocals (really just some guy talking), drifts on with no discernible purpose. The sharp, church bell-like sounds in "Out of Touch" are striking, but most of the music on Beta is a mish-mash of ambient beats that don't leave any lasting impression. — Niesel
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