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The Vacancies 

A Beat Missing or a Silence Added (Blackheart Records)

The best Cleveland rock bands tend to be as hard, grizzled, and mean as the third shift at U.S. Steel. But what distinguishes the Vacancies from their business-minded peers is that the band does a good job of balancing gritty, no-nonsense rock with melody and hooks that hark back to punk's first generation.

On their sophomore LP, the Vacancies benefit from a much fuller production that calls more attention to the band's big-time harmonies. The Vacancies' sound is unceasingly buoyant, with ringing, melodic guitars, two- and three-part harmonies, and bright, acrobatic bass lines prominent in the mix. As a result, punk rippers like "Forfeit" and "Killing Time" are both caustic and surprisingly catchy. "Don't sell us short," frontman Billy Crooked sings early on the disc. "Our day is coming." Sounds like it's already here.

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