Local album reviews

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Karate Coyote

"Move" EP

Web: myspace.com/karatecoyote

For the past year or so, Karate Coyote has fashioned itself in the mold of Broken Social Scene, the Toronto collective that spins contributions from a dozen musicians into phosphorescent indie-rock quilts. Everybody chips in, and the music roams free.

Ambitions are nice, but it's better to just be what you are, and that's what Karate Coyote does on Move.

The Columbus upstarts' first release isn't sprawling. It's tight and focused, and that makes sense. Karate Coyote isn't a fluid project with members coming and going. It's a finely tuned unit that has yielded a unique but consistent pop-rock sound.

A lot of ingredients remain in play. The guitars and synths come in all varieties, from harshly processed to serenely smooth, and the interweaving vocals provide a nice point-counterpoint. But rather than serving up a multi-course banquet, they've pureed everything into a unified flavor.

The sound is a sort of an indie-rock pep rally that nods to the mopey kids at the top of the bleachers even as its melodies hop and skip with the cheerleading squad.

Move succeeds by fully inhabiting this identity, presenting five songs with personality and authority the band hasn't quite learned to communicate live yet. Their next shot at replicating the sass and splendor comes Wednesday, Jan. 7, at Skully's Music Diner. -Chris DeVille

The True Moves

"Wild Weekend"

Web: myspace.com/truemoves

Everything sounds better bathed in Bob Starker's sax (and not just because he's married to my editor). Starker's blasts and blares spice up this three-song introduction to the latest project from garage-rock vet Eric Wrong. Underneath, Wrong's compatriots drag nasty rhythms through poorly lit alleys and muddy back roads, Stooges-style. Two short originals set the scene for a monstrous cover of The Scientists' "Swampland," a dastardly six-minute exploration of the dark side. -Chris DeVille

The Westsylvanians

"Allegheny Front"

Web: myspace.com/thewestsylvanians

The Westsylvanians' latest album seems plucked from another time. Shades of the grunge era (think Alice in Chains' "Jar of Flies") color some selections; most recall the corn-fed college rock of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven. So it's no surprise that Allegheny Front is indeed a time capsule, an overview of the best work by a group that rocked Columbus and Pittsburgh in the late '80s and '90s. It's a splendid read through a chapter of rock history not documented in the hip High Street canon. -Chris DeVille