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The Invincible CzarsFortissimo: Austin’s “everything and the kitchen sink” rockers have become known for projects as outrageous as their name would suggest. From meticulous arrangements of their original compositions and songs to covering the Nutcracker Suite, Iron Maiden and even performing complex original live scores to silent films they do it all. Featuring violin and woodwinds in addition to the traditional band set up of guitar, bass, drums and keyboard this band is bold. Their third album released finally captures their orchestral rock sound while properly representing their senses of dynamics and humor. It’s not a metal album, but heavier to date than their other releases. They achieve a sonic explosiveness as the guitar/sax/violin triple solo screams to you on “The Curse of Foxes, Birds and Rabbits.” The onslaught of all instrumentation is involved in octave pulsating waves in “The Troll” and the modernization of Modest Mussorgsky’s “A Night on Ald Mountain” is an enjoyable listen. They even include a crowd live favorite “Wilie Poland vs. the Black Keys.” 2009 has been a big year for the band, writing a performing a new soundtrack to the Fritz Lang silent film Destiny at Houston’s Discovery Green, performing alongside Asleep at the Wheel on KUHF FM and surviving the chaos of SXSW in addition to releasing this album. 5.0 McRiprock’s

Flounders Without EyesWhat’s the Rush: Flounders has six singers and songwriters who contribute to the album and take it far past its jam band genre. This is a band with multiple musical colors that has been rocking Texas since 1992. The album boasts strong songwriting skills, group harmonies and the soulful vocals of Jenny Mier. This, their fourth album release, is arguably the best to date because it was recorded live and in the studio. The album was produced by Lloyd Maines (Dixie Chics, Uncle Tupelo, Robert Earl Keen). The Flounders are known for their lengthy shows playing up to four sets without repeating songs in true jam band fashion— doing 50/50 covers and originals. Maines led them through the recording process and it feels different from what has been done in past albums. It’s an evolution where the songs are more enjoyable to play and lend themselves to better live play. Maines says, “ I saw something new, so producing a talented multi-genre jam-band like the Flounders seemed a natural fit. I like music outside the box and they do just that. They play a lot of genres of music and are a fun band. Their writing is smart and original and they can just jam out if they feel like it.” The album is a hybrid of natural modern American roots music melding bluegrass, folk and country with big, bluesy rock grooves and irresistible choruses. There’s some pep in “Run Dog,” but then sails effortlessly into the soul crushing power of “Drift Away” to the bright-eyed bluegrass of “Hills of Carolina” and moving along to the folksy rock of “Set A Place.” Headlining a gig at the Jerry Garcia Bash in August 2008 was perhaps the biggest moment in the history of the host venue, Ruta Maya Café. They will be on the road playing shows and festivals and bringing lots of jam to come. 4.5 McRiprock’s.

Fredy ArgirLast Time Around: Suggesting an air of finality with the title, this album perhaps represents the end of an era. The ten songs on this CD run far against the grain of what one might at first expect from the CD’s title and Argir’s previous recordings. The style is fresh and has an energy that evokes anything but an air of conclusive music. The music’s totality, song building on song proceeds like a meditation on where Argir has been and where he’s headed next with his music. The tenth and last song (and title track) was written in the 1970’s and became a folk classic with other bands playing it live. As in previous efforts, Argir wrote, produced and engineered his album at his own recording studio on lead vocals, all guitar leads and dulcimer. In addition, he co-designed the albums CD package and did some of its photography. The album showcases savvy electric guitars, melodic bass, drums and smooth sax and clarinet along with some keyboard wizardry. 4.0 McRiprock’s.

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