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Frank Royster

Thru The Years

(Kool Kat)

A smart mix of garage-rock riffs, arpeggiated rhythm guitar work, raspy double harmonies, and punchy drum beats, Charleston singer/guitarist/songwriter Frank Royster’s newly-released solo album Thru The Years embraces the basics of classic “power pop” and explores the melodic possibilities. Things are upbeat and romantic with a tough melancholy and the tunes tap along with medium tempo and a singalong vibe. Stepping out of the shadows a bit as a guy who ain’t afraid to sing about being taken by a smile, pleading to talk a little while, and professing his true love, Royster moves away from the heavy guitar sound of his bar-rock cover band The Hed Shop Boys toward more heartfelt stuff on the 10-song collection. Recorded with a bit of help from drummer Paolo Liccardi and guitarists Todd Mayson, Michael Pennington, Keith Bradshaw, and special guest Jim Babjak (of The Smithereens), the album keeps a genuine rock ‘n’ roll vibe throughout. The Lennon/McCartney team would approve of lead-off single “I’m So Glad” and “Say Goodbye.” The Brothers Davies would approve of the hand-clapping grooves and lilting minor-key chord changes (in the chorus, of course) in power-pop nuggets “Isabella” and “Kristina.” –T. Ballard Lesemann

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Handgun Sonata

The Music, The Madness, The Murder

(independent)

Local rock kids Handgun Sonata have two major issues working in their favor: aggression and precision. Equal parts ’80s U.S. punk, speed metal, emocore, and thrash, the five-piece’s new debut album, The Music, The Madness, The Murder, finds a balance between super pissed off and on-a-dime tight delivery. Singer Charlie Smith, drummer Josh Matthews, guitarists Josh Isherwood and Bryan Harris, and bassist Jodi Dobbs – recorded this disc in lo-budge conditions at The Shed Studios (a.k.a. Climate Controlled Studios) with engineer Chris Chamberlain and managed a surprisingly polished sound. “There’s always going to be somebody bigger … there’s always going to be somebody better!” yells Smith during the break in the complicated and dynamic song “Winter Sounds.” If they keep up like this, that ain’t gonna be the case for long. –T. Ballard Lesemann