Noise 

The M’s
Future Women
Polyvinyl

The sophomore album by Chicago foursome The M’s is somewhat dichotomous—while taking the listener back to the days of psychedelic ’60s garage rock and ’70s power pop, a la Pezband, Flamin’ Groovies and The Nerves, it also manages to present a sound that’s on the whole distinctively contemporary.

When dissecting each song it’s hard not to pick up on how The M’s replicate, or perhaps pay homage to, myriad musical predecessors. The danceable “Underground” conjures up classic Bowie, in a good way, while “Shawnee Dupree” sounds strikingly similar to Beck’s “Devil’s Haircut,” in a not-so-good way.

On the more original front, kudos should be given to “Trucker Speed,” where rolling percussion and distorted guitars mesh seamlessly with symphonious strings, showcasing an undeniable talent for synthesis. Another standout is “Future Women,” where the tune’s slight country twang and boot-stomping beat give it an almost anthemic feel.

Future Women is a highly listenable and worthy offering. The tracks are intelligently crafted, employ creative instrumentation, and Josh Chicoine’s Tommy Hoehn-esque lead vocals highlight a bevy of clean, sonorous harmonies. This is an ideal album for those who revere the classics yet have an appetite for something innovative and fresh. (Rachel Carlson)

The M’s play The Raven Cafe with Volumen and The International Playboys Monday, Feb. 20, at 10 PM. $5.

Peter Mayer
Midwinter
Blue Boat Records

As winter makes her comeback in Montana this week, we might all get lucky enough to step out our front doors into freshly fallen snow and experience that muffled peace and quiet that’s been so elusive to those of us at low elevations most of the season. If you can imagine that serene setting embellished by the sounds of dampened French horns, cello, precisely finger-picked acoustic guitar and folky vocals, then you’ll have an idea of the sound of Peter Mayer’s tranquil self-produced effort, Midwinter.

Because his work is more cerebral than catchy, you won’t find yourself singing Mayer’s tunes for hours after the CD player has stopped. Instead, his songs unfold in the moment, each painting an impressionistic portrait of the natural and spiritual world that surrounds him. With a voice reminiscent of southern folksinger David Wilcox, Mayer sings like an introvert—punctuating his passionate points so as not to have to discuss them any further later on. But if you do end up discussing songs with Peter while he’s in Missoula, don’t get him confused with the music industry’s other Peter Mayer, who toured for years as a member of the Coral Reefers (Jimmy Buffett’s backup band). (Caroline Keys)

Peter Mayer plays a benefit concert for the Missoula Community Market in the St. Patrick Hospital Conference Center Friday, Feb. 17, at 8 PM. $12/$10 for members of the Missoula Folklore Society.

The Kissers
Good Fight!
Skeptic Rock/Oarfin

Turns out Wisconsinites are just as miserable as the Irish. At least that’s what Wisconsin-bred rockers The Kissers lead listeners to believe when rattling off their current afflictions, including day-to-day toil, religious intrusion and political corruption. The Kissers’ sophomore album, Good Fight!, delves without bashfulness into issues like the death penalty, religious righteousness and Iraq. If you’re on the same political page, it’s an easy album to ingest, though the perspective is hardly groundbreaking.

As for The Kissers’ style, it’s rapid fiddling interlaced with defiant vocals—a musical breed always (and probably unfairly) compared to legendary Irish rockers The Pogues. Then again, The Kissers did start as a Pogues cover band. Nonetheless, Good Fight! has solid originals, including a gorgeous, gravelly ballad called “Captain George” and “What They Can,” a vivacious jig—both of which prove The Kissers’ spirited range. Ken Fitzsimmons’ vocals do lean toward the monotonous, which is perfect for the dry humor of “Kicked in the Head,” but not so fitting for a haunting traditional tune like “Molly Malone.” Such tossed-off covers seem a little sloppy and disinterested, especially for an impassioned group whose other tunes are more emotionally vigilant. (Erika Fredrickson)

The Kissers play Sean Kelly’s St. Practice Day Saturday, Feb. 18, at 9:30 PM. $2.

Morningwood
Morningwood
Capitol

Morningwood’s libido-driven rock is like a spring-break gin and tonic: more than efficiently stiff, but hardly worth writing home about. Then again, who has time to write when you’re so busy partying? And besides, should rock ’n’ roll party music really be about ingenuity?

The debut album from this NYC-based band includes tracks with new-wave disco flavor and others that reek of the “lock up your daughters” attitude of AC/DC’s sexually charged TNT. Well, except that Morningwood is captained by the sometimes-brazen, sometimes-satin voice of Chantel Claret who, if the song “Babysitter” is any indication, should be every bit as much a parent’s nightmare as Bon Scott. Not to mention her feisty growl, which rivals Joan Jett’s.

“Easy” is a strong, reckless blowout of arena-style rock and “Nu Metal” is a catchy and sassy comment on soulless rock fads. The problem with Morningwood addressing lack of soul is that it sort of backfires on them, considering that this eponymous album sometimes stinks of fluff and gimmick. No doubt this is one of those albums that is, at times, contagiously rockin’ enough to crave, as well as brainlessly sexual enough to satisfy the blandest of MTV beach party-goers. (Erika Fredrickson)

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