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Four More Local Recordings You (Probably) Haven't Heard

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So many records, so little time. Seven Days gets more album submissions than we know what to do with. And, given the ease of record making these days, it's difficult to keep up. Still, we try to get to every local release that comes across the music desk, no matter how obscure or far out.

To that end, here are four albums that likely flew under the radar of your average local music fan. In some cases, they represent the outermost boundaries of local music. Others simply slipped through the cracks. But each is worth a listen.

A2VT, "Let's Get Together"

(Self-released, CD, digital download)

Vermont's A2VT will perhaps always be best known for their Onion City anthem, "Winooski, My Town." The 2012 video for that song, which appeared on the then-trio's debut album, Africa, Vermont, was a mini-sensation on YouTube, going locally viral and amassing close to 50,000 views. Since then, the crew of young African refugees has added a fourth member and, under the tutelage of musical mentor David Cooper, begun work on a new full-length record, due later this year.

Released in early 2016, "Let's Get Together" is the first single from that project. If it's representative of the rest of the album, it would seem the group is taking its energetic fusion of hip-hop and Afrobeat to even more intensely danceable levels. But a budding musical sophistication at play amid those shimmering, syncopated beats suggests genuine artistic growth.

In typically sunny A2VT fashion, "Let's Get Together" is an optimistic — and extremely catchy — call for unity. The cultural mélange is reflected in every aspect of the song, from African drumming and chants to R&B-flavored vocal melodies to modern pop and hip-hop production work. The quartet is backed by a slew of notable locals, including Cooper, Linda Bassick, Ken French, Taylor Smith and Luke Laplant, among others, as well as African percussionists Puru Nirola, Ali Dieng and Mame Assane Coly. It's a bright, joyous song that bodes well for that forthcoming full-length.

Rockin' Ron the Friendly Pirate, "Black Snake Tale"

(Self-released, digital download)

Rockin' Ron the Friendly Pirate is a children's entertainer from the landlocked port of Smugglers' Notch. Over the years he's released a handful of swashbuckling recordings aimed at delighting youngsters. And, generally speaking, that's exactly what he's done. Rockin' Ron writes pleasant, often punny sea shanties that leave kiddos smiling and, as importantly, don't drive parents to walk the plank.

Ron's latest single, "Black Snake Tale," follows in that same vein. It's a catchy tune and slickly produced — bonus points for the judicious use of the pennywhistle. It's also educational, touching on the region's smuggling history and a ship called the Black Snake that "slithers through Lake Champlain." The material might be best suited for slightly older kids. But the singsong melody should appeal to old salts of any age.

Thick as Thieves, Thick as Thieves

(Self-released, CD, digital download)

Thick as Thieves are an upstate New York duo composed of Katie May Erskine and Arthur Buezo, the latter of whom local audiences may know as a member of the Blind Owl Band. Buezo and Erskine are both life and musical partners, and their relationship greatly informs their self-titled debut album.

The record was largely written while the couple was traveling the country, and it has an appropriately rambling feel. This is classical rustic Americana very much inspired by the road. That's apparent from the wily opening strains of "So We'll Ride" and holds true throughout, especially on "The Getaway," "Seven Hundred Miles" and "Head for the Door."

Erskine and Buezo write with a hobo-minstrel style derived from the likes of Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams. They match that shabby sensibility with loose, energetic playing and singing. Both are talented multi-instrumentalists and vocalists, and some genuinely impressive musical moments can be found. But the album's real appeal is its casual, rootsy aesthetic, which makes it a perfect choice for a country drive.

Nobles, Nobles

(Self-released, digital download)

Nobles are a quartet from Worcester, Mass. But they have some Green Mountain pedigree in the form of bassist and vocalist Davis McGraw, formerly of Windsor-based rock band the Pilgrims. That group is one of the flagship bands for Upper Valley label/collective What Doth Life. Fans of either the Pilgrims or WDL will likely find a lot to like about Nobles.

The band trades in dark, dreamy indie rock with plenty of reverb-drenched guitar jangle. Opener "Ghost Cave" wouldn't sound out of place on a Real Estate record. "Laura's a Menace" shimmers similarly but is cut with dose of gloominess on loan from the Cure. "Chandelier" is a moody, brooding number that owes a debt to the National. Things pick up on "Triage," which sets the preceding dreariness to a skittering drumbeat and pop hooks that wink at Cheap Trick.

Nobles wear their influences on their sleeves and sometimes reveal hero worship. But that's a common trait for new bands and hardly a deal breaker. We do get glimpses of what could happen when the band corrals and transcends its influences. For example, "Tropic Haunt" takes the previously cited sonic trademarks and injects them with welcome personality, suggesting that Nobles could soon step out on their own artistically.


The original print version of this article was headlined "File Under '?'"

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