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Astronaut AcademySelf-Titled: Austin’s very own Astronaut Academy comes to us with endorsements and a resume up the wazoo. Endorsed by Fender guitars, featured in international magazines, a featured song in an extreme sports TV show overseas, along with a strong listener support out of Canada, they are starting to come into their own. Led by vocalist and bass player Jeff Dunham, AA’s music is familiar yet fresh using hooks and engaging sing-along choruses. Together for just over a year they are plugging their way up the musical ladder that includes their self-titled release 4.5 McRiprock’s

White RosesSpark the Chain: Heather Rose can play a range of instruments from guitar (acoustic and electric) to bass, piano, synthesizers, saxophone and percussion, but it’s her voice that’s her greatest gift and the biggest stand-out on her second EP. Just as she’s proficient at almost every instrument she touches her voice, too, ranges from warm folksy to rock infused growls and even jazz-like in quality. The band the White Roses serves as the vehicle for all of Heather’s musical escapes, but the team of players changes depending on the style and situation. Her music in Spark the Chain focuses on social change, problems in society, as well as, her personal dilemmas. Songs like “Red” highlight the hypocrisy of the coffee industry. “My Little Star” faces the torment of teen stars, and “Beautiful Life” illustrates the delusions that many young people seem to create. However, Rose doesn’t make this album purely a political force, in stead she also transports listeners into her personal life reflecting on lost love, regret and childhood memories.  Rose is currently studying at as a Professional Music major at Berklee College of Music and continues to refine her skills both as a songwriter and performer. Her voice is powerful and magnificent and is definitely the strong suit amongst the album. Probably the greatest flaw in the album is it’s inability to focus on one subject… love, political injustice, etc. It tends to bounce the listener along with too many bumps in the road to really get comfortable and fall in love with Rose’s power packed voice and exceptionally skilled attempts at different genres. 4.5 McRiprock’s.

David LutesBig Top Vol 1&2:  David Lutes is a musician’s musician. His newest double EP release Big Top Vol. 1 and 2 communicates newfound peace after the birth of his first child. The message that is central to the album is hope and the record guiltlessly exudes this sentiment to listener. The two predominating genres on Big Top are Americana and pop. Volume One contains elements of an Americana roots background that is clearly displayed in the song “Love in the Hard Times.” Whereas Volume Two exercises his fleeting interest in pop music with experimentation and is best exemplified by the song “Rooftop.” Standouts amongst the album are clearly “Fine Line” and “The Wheel” which have been crafted and float lighter than air. Steady syncopations lead “Ginny on Fire,” “Be Reasonable” and others springing colorful lyrics join along with them. Recently nominated for “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Song of the Year” at the 2009 Texas Music Awards Lutes is on top of his game fusing jazz, pop, rock, Americana and everything in between to make a double album with a backing voice that creates a great sensation for the listener. 5.0 McRiprock’s

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