Reaching Your End
(City of Kings)
While the cardboard packaging for this album is nothing spectacular, you gotta give the guys props for making it eco-friendly. It's made from recycled paper and printed with soy-based ink, all provided by local merchants and artists. The album is pretty typical thrash metal, but it benefits from strong production that makes the songs crackle with intensity. And time-signature changes on the mind-boggling "GrizzylasFUQ" and the title track are complex beyond belief, verging on Meshuggah territory. That's impressive, especially for a group of young guys that just came together in 2007. - Jeff Niesel
Reaching Your End performs with Salt the Wound, Wreak Havoc, the Analyst, Failure to Fall and Screw Tape Letters at 7 p.m. Saturday, January 31, at Peabody's (2083 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999). Tickets: $10.
Hollow Bones in Monotone
Like Todd Snider and Lyle Lovett, this Norwalk-based, husky-voiced singer-songwriter takes a narrative approach to songwriting, whether he's writing from the point of view of a lion tired of being tamed ("Lion in the Cage") or a road-weary traveler who can't seem to find his way ("Both Ends of a Gun"). At times, Castle settles for sentimental clichés (see the sappy "Down"). But that's the exception, since his folksy/Americana songs, generally played on nothing more than two acoustic guitars (and sometimes a harmonica), are so well-written and composed, they never seem too sparse, despite their minimal production. - Niesel
Chris Castle opens for Jonathan Edwards at 8 p.m. Friday, January 30, at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $28 advance, $30 day of show.