Gotta get me some ’emo-billy’ music

Hot Rod Circuit

“The Underground is a Dying Breed”

3.5 out of 5 stars

Every once in a great while a band comes along and does something so inspired that it leads to the creation of a new sub-genre of music. In my wildest dreams I would have never imagined that Hot Rod Circuit could be that band.

While most of “The Underground is a Dying Breed,” the band’s fifth LP and first since 2004, continues to purvey The Get Up Kids-style emo, there are a couple tracks here where guitarist “Spacey” Casey Prestwood breaks out the lap pedal steel and calls upon the work he has done with such groups as The Only Children and Drag the River.

The result is a conglomeration of emo songwriting and country-influenced undertones that I am from this point forward referring to as “emo-billy.”

And contrary to what you naysayers out there might think, it all works really well. Quite frankly, I would have loved to hear them do this more often on this record. But the more traditional songs feature some strong songwriting and typically solid melodic-emo song structures. Hot Rod Circuit is a band that deserves much more credit than it receives within its genre.

Key Tracks: “Stateside,” “US Royalty,” “45’s”

Ken Andrews

“Secrets of the Lost Satellite”

4.5 out of 5 stars

Over the past two decades, Ken Andrews has cast a thousand little shadows over the face of popular music.

He has made a name for himself as a musician during his time in the groundbreaking group Failure, as well as in Year of the Rabbit.

In addition to that, he has produced, engineered and mixed tracks and albums for an entire who’s who of artists: Self, Creeper Lagoon, Air, Pete Yorn, Tenacious D, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Sense Field, A Perfect Circle, Mae, Copeland, Abandoned Pools and more.

This album, the first released under his own name, doesn’t surprise anyone who is familiar with his previous works but stands as a wonderful continuation.

Crashing, melodic alt-rock guitars, much like the type exhibited in the Year of the Rabbit collection, come into play on occasion during this record.

Where the album truly stands out is in the flood of layered synthesizers and other sonic nuances that have been a major factor on his past few releases.

The result is a set of dark, expansive and epic alt-rock tunes that I will go so far as to say are orgasmically good, and that’s not a term I throw around often.

Key Tracks: “In Your Way,” “Does Anybody Know,” “Up Or Down”