To the punks: If you've just started spinning the Misery Jackals EP, don't stop after the first few notes. To the hillbillies: Brace yourselves; the Misery Jackals play a kind of punk bluegrass they affectionately call "pillbilly browngrass." The title of the second track, "Crack and Similac," suggests as much. It's hard to believe this musical mix could work, but the Misery Jackals pull it off, offering a tight, banjo-heavy sound. Their "punk" roots are apparent in their hilarious, off-the-wall lyrics, which they claim are based on true stories. These guys are such a capable punk band that they could drop the country shtick and not miss a beat. — Liss Vickery
Volume 1: Souvenirs & Evidence
(Mad at the World)
The war for America might not be over, but on Tony Erba's scorecard, the Cleve has long been in the loss column. On Volume 1, the Cheap Tragedies frontman reports from a blasted class-warfare battleground. Compared to their 2000 and 7 EP, the band is now battle-tested and ready to rock. The Tragedies wisely carried over standouts "Going Going Gone (Vanishing Americana)" and "The Target Shoots Back" from the EP, preserving the memory of lost Cleveland landmarks. In monster grooves like "Arcanum Arcandrum," guitarists Jeff Grey and John Millin are downright anthemic. "Going Going Gone" ends with a barked "Nothing's left in Cleveland!" But that's not exactly right; the bad times make for good music. — D.X. Ferris
Cheap Tragedies perform with Dr. Know, Pass Out Knives, the Kilroys and Start Suckin' at 9 p.m. Thursday, May 14, at Now That's Class (11213 Detroit Ave., 216.221.8576, myspace.com/nowthatsclass).