End Transmission Devour
Missing Words Records
1End Transmission just got back from its first tour, an insane 40-date indie run that found the band sleeping most nights in a conversion van and playing to sometimes hostile crowds and empty rooms. That’s a good thing. The band members’ ethic is a throwback to a bygone era when bands spent more time on the road than online. On Devour, the band’s first full-length, it wears its influences on its sleeve. Produced by Jose Galvez of the sorely missed Los Angeles keyboard rockers Ozma, the album conveys a “melody comes first” ethos. Huge pop hooks, catchy key lines and clever lyrics about relationship frustration are the blueprint for standout tracks like “89,” “Talking In Circles” and “Say You Will.” Though not screamo-friendly or drum looped enough for the popular kids, it’s an excellent debut that transcends scenes by a band that puts in the work. End Transmission will be at Bombay on Sunday, Dec. 27. Available at www.missingwords.com, iTunes and local retailers.

— Chris Jay


Blackbird Records
2Ventura natives Lovebird hit the ground running with their self-titled debut, an absorbing arrangement of songs that mingles brooding shoegaze rock with indie-pop of a personal nature. The band quickly reveals itself in the first three songs, starting with the early ’90s alternative jangle about romantic reluctance “I Will,” giving way to total devotion on the lush and hypnotic slow-dance ballad “Tonight.” The album collects no moss with the pulse-pounding third track, “Slowly After,” a stirring lament revealing perhaps the band’s strongest potential in its ability to maintain powerful rock momentum without leaving its shimmering guitar lines and harmonized vocal choruses the least bit rushed. Lovebird then seals the deal with the dreamy fuzzed-out rock of “Ending of Control” and the soulful psychedelia of the closer, “There Is a Light.”  A fine start for a promising new band. Available on iTunes, Rhapsody and Amazon. For sale at Salzer’s Records and other local retailers.

— Chris Mastrovito

The Calamity
Songs from the Gold Coast
Missing Words Records

3Not a huge departure for members of Army of Freshmen, nor particularly threatening for a band with a name that suggests as much — the Calamity’s debut full-length is actually quite benign, friendly even. Songs from the Gold Coast is a polished collection of piano-driven, radio-ready, well-constructed pop songs for a mainstream audience.

Inoffensive themes paired with pretty melodies give the songs a fresh-scrubbed appeal, sort of like date music for business students. Probably the most striking element of the 11 songs is Owen Bucey’s piano work, which is dominant but not overbearing. While the Calamity has clearly mastered the modern pop-rock formula, it’s the alt-country hues that suit it best and will likely propel it in the future. Already popular locally, the Calamity is preparing for a month-long residency at Billy O’s in January, where they will be joined by the likes of Delaney Gibson and the Grandmas. Available at Salzer’s Records and www.the calamity.com.

— Michel Cicero