"I'm just a pretty face you drag all over the place," sneers Akron-based singer-guitarist Dan Miraldi on "Sex Symbol," the opening track on his new album. It's a start to an appealing record, as Miraldi alternately channels the Stooges on the ghoulish "Premonition" and Buddy Holly on the retro-sounding "More and More." Other highlights include the racing "Laura McHugh," which features some flashy guitar work, and the snappy "That Guy/Summer Romance," a tune about kicking a girl's bad boyfriend to the curb. The songs are sometimes too straightforward ("I could be yours and you could be mine," Miraldi sings on "Out of Eden"), but the guy is a sharp enough singer and frontman to make even the simple stuff work well. — Jeff Niesel
Recorded on an eight-track in what he calls a "hot-ass room" in his apartment, J Buckner's full-length debut is an odd assortment of sampled grooves and found sounds. It starts off with "Night of the Fleshapoids," a heady mix of electronic beats, jazzy guitars and sampled vocals. That gives way to "Grime," a tribute to the actual "grime" Buckner finds under his bed. He sings about trying to get rid of the stuff and soon loses his cool, shouting "Grime! Grime! Grime!" It's the kind of trippy approach for which Faith No More frontman Mike Patton is known. The album is all over the musical map: Buckner ventures into boogie metal ("The Pessimist") and minimalist electro ("The Groove Drove Me Crazy"), while retaining a strong sense of identity. — Niesel
J Buckner performs with the Red Buttons, Quick and Dirty and Kite Flying Society at 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, at Bela Dubby (13321 Madison Ave., 216.221.4479, beladubby.com).