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Stupid Beautiful Heaven And Gypsy Relic Get Graded

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Stupid Beautiful Heaven

Stupid Beautiful Heaven

(self-released)

myspace.com/stupidbeautifulheaven

Not sure what to make of squeaky-voiced Todd Thurman, a member of local alt-rockers Pale Hollow who also records as Stupid Beautiful Heaven. On the one hand, his simple, fragile songs like "Snow" and "Shakes the Clown" recall the work of indie icon Daniel Johnston. But Thurman isn't a one-trick pony. He can turn up the guitars and rock out like Dinosaur Jr., something that's apparent on "Sun Inside" and "Heavy Water." One thing's for sure: The guy's got an ear for a sharp pop hook. That comes through clearly on pretty pop tunes like "Last California Girl" and "Why Can't I Say It," which resound clearly in spite of minimal production. - Jeff Niesel

Gypsy Relic

Paycheck to Paycheck

(self-released)

gypsyrelic.com

Last month, these guys sold out House of Blues' Cambridge Room for their CD release party. It's easy to see why they have a large following. Paycheck to Paycheck features the kind of grooves that have made regional acts such as O.A.R. and Ekoostik Hookah national successes. The band's strength lies in delivering funk-based jam rock. The opening track "Feast or Famine" features solid, blues-based guitar work and gruff vocals, and "I Hate You" has a good edge to it too. Confessional ballads like "Formality" and "Sinner" are so generic, however, they don't generate any kind of compassion, despite their best intentions. The same goes for "May Never," a tune with "Freebird" aspirations that falls short of the mark. - Niesel

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