Punk rockers, pop duo sing Vegas


A new punk rock supergroup and a rising pop duo top the latest roundup of Vegas music releases:

NEW COLD WAR, “New Cold War” E.P. (newcoldwarlv.com): Desperation is the engine that powers New Cold War, and that engine runs hot.

A punk rock collective founded by former Surrounded By Thieves guitarist Andy Harrison, the lineup includes Battle Born’s John Brown, The People’s Whiskey’s Cody Leavitt and Luis Mendez and Guilty By Association’s Mike Janoff, who sings the roots-saluting “Who We Are.”

Together, they do their best to blow apart these Harrison-penned tunes about the inexorable passing of time, the incredible heaviness of being and surviving the blue-collar blues.

“Better days seem so far from where I am,” Leavitt sings on “Growing Down,” where the band attempts to trump Leavitt’s hard luck by playing harder still.

Despite every track featuring a different lead singer save for one, there’s an urgency that unites these songs, gives them a shared sense of forward momentum.

This, along with plenty of singalong defiance, serve as the common denominators here.

Harrison gives voice to the album’s lone outlier: acoustic working man’s lament “Corporate,” which closes the record with some homespun insubordination.

His message: Life’s too short and the workday is too long, and so he splits the difference between the two with a song.

ALMOST NORMAL, “In Technicolor” E.P. (facebook.com/almostnormal): Even when Ashley Lampman’s mood is blue, her voice conveys brighter hues.

“I’m feeling kind of negative,” she confesses at the outset of “Oblivion” over a piano line as unadorned as her emotions.

Before long, though, the sentiment has turned.

“We won’t give u-u-u-p,” she sings, her voice going u-u-u-p as well.

And so it is with Almost Normal: Their tunes are so buoyant that even when tears are shed, it just gives these songs more to float on.

Since their last release, 2012’s pop confection “I Shot the Moon,” the band has pared itself down to a two-piece, with drummer Andrew Zakhar completing the lineup.

On “Technicolor,” Lampman and Zakhar favor acoustic-electro songs that blow by like a warm breeze.

Tracks such as “This Is Life” and “The Dream,” which bookend this seven song E.P., may sound a disconsolate note here and there, but there’s normally a clear sense of resolution by song’s end, as if everything has all been worked out.

It’s akin to those moments when a stray cloud darkens the sky of the band’s home city: You know the sun will shine soon enough.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.