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Local CD Reviews

Daddy's Gonna Kill Ralphie and Navy Blu





Don't dismiss this Northeast Ohio-based band just because of its insipid moniker (a reference to the 1983 film A Christmas Story). Its new album, Panic, is accomplished folk-based indie-rock, inspired by cult faves like Elliott Smith and the Weakerthans. The opening tune, "The Documentarian," is a barroom ballad that finds a mini-orchestra plucking away as frontman Toby Fallsgraff sings, "I drink because I like it." Fine harmony vocals distinguish "Concentric Circles," and the narrative "Everybody's Sleeping Outside Tonight" could pass as a Jackson Browne song. "Letters to Bonnie on the Day of Our Deaths" is an old-school murder ballad featuring moody squeezebox, and "Whatever Comes Early" is a gentle ballad that benefits from orchestral flourishes. — Jeff Niesel




Calling himself "pop culture's worst enemy," rapper Navy Blu (Marcus Pittman) cites righteous rappers like the Roots and Nas as influences. That's apparent on his new nine-song EP, Unconscious. "I'm laid back/in fact, I recline," he raps on the bluesy opening track, "In the Cut." His slo-mo flow at times recalls Too $hort's deliberate style (albeit without the relentless profanity and misogyny) and lets his fine lyrical skills shine. "My voice convicts all crooks," he raps on the "Fight the Power"-inspired "Justice." "Nothin' In Me" starts with a shout-out to the "216," followed by Navy Blu rapping over an intoxicating blend of percolating beats. "Handful of Dollars" is the weakest track, since it resorts to the distorted vocal effects that Mike Jones used a couple of years ago. But for the most part, this is a fine debut from Pittman, a local rap veteran who only recently started using the Navy Blu moniker. — Niesel

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