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The Kickdrums and My Sky Tomorrow get graded

The Kickdrums

(self-released)

myspace.com/thekickdrums

The Kickdrums' EP Just a Game arrives hot on the heels of their rock debut, Detached. Alex "Fitty" Fitts is the duo's utility infielder, playing and singing most of the disc, and he's made huge progress as a singer and songwriter. On "Personal Calamity," he's a self-conscious songsmith: "Pardon me, but I'm just bored to tears/Trying to ignore/The ringing in my ears/We'll show the world/At least we're gonna try." He's no longer just singing about being a rock star; he's showing he's qualified for the job. The consistently midtempo record is sprinkled with popping and crackling soul samples. Somewhat disappointingly, there's nothing here like the dance-floor standout "Love Is a Drug" from Detached, but the EP is still sticky enough that you won't notice. D.X. Ferris

My Sky Tomorrow

(self-released)

myskytomorrow.com

Yesterday's Pain is a divided and uncertain effort, stuck somewhere between the '80s and the '00s. At times sounding like a cross between Aerosmith and GNR, My Sky Tomorrow also brings in elements of contemporary melodic pop-rock, with Coldplay keys and a bit of Jack Johnson/Dave Matthews frat mellowness. Oddly, album opener "All I Got to Do" kicks off with a circuitously prog-ish keyboard line, getting heads nodding trying to keep up. Unfortunately, it quickly unravels into reductive riffing and grunge worship. Ivory man Wes Kerns doesn't get control again until "Standing," a tune whose chorus inexplicably recalls "Mr. Bojangles." "Different View" returns to a guitar-driven sound, with Kerns piano-plinking a John Cale/Stooges reference. If they would have let their rhythm section drive the beat, freeing up Kerns to guide the band's melodic thrust, Yesterday's Pain might have been pain-free. Nicholas Hall

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