Love, Smokes lead local roundup

Synth pop femmes and roadhouse rogues lead the way in this month’s roundup of local releases:

LOVE PENTAGON, “Love Pentagon” ( Love Pentagon’s tunes sound like daydreams — all curlicues of whooshing synth and breathy coos that swallow any clouds from the sky — but they’re formed from the stuff of nightmares: dying of ennui, problem solving with cheap wine, growing up in the circus and, uh, unicorns.

Equal parts whirring pop and dark-hued Krautrock, Love Pentagon’s tunes are twitchy, tempestuous and full of hairpin turns. From indie disco rave-ups to ominous space pop drones, the band utilizes a bright palette of sounds (hand claps, glockenspiel, chimes, clanging sound effects) to haunt dance floors like the ghost of Julie Ruin.

THE HOLY SMOKES, “Never Give It Up” (Rank Outsider Records): Jeff Koenig’s harmonica barks like the neighbor’s dog, angry and nonstop. It not only powers the band’s hard-boiled whiskey rock like a 454 big block, but it also supplies lots of subtle shading and many of melody lines on the Smokes’ latest, which sounds like ’50s sock hop rock driven through the gutter and crashed into the nearest bar.

“I’ve been livin’ in sin, but I’ll never give it up,” Koenig howls with dust in his throat on an album that’s all about hanging tough, no matter what. Big walking bass lines, pounded piano and hip-shakin’ guitar go down smooth then explode in the gut, just like the hooch that fuels these dudes.

VARIOUS ARTISTS, “Viva Rock Vegas.Net”: Navigating a compilation disc is always like traversing a minefield: Careful where you tread, lest you lose a limb to some crappy modern rock band with lyrics that could’ve been cribbed from the diary tucked beneath your kid sister’s mattress.

That said, this collection is a solid overview of some of Vegas’ youngest and most marketable bands, from nationally touring acts (The Higher, Escape the Fate) to popular local radio rock (Searchlight, Away Station). Check out the impossibly earnest piano pop of The Cab, the vein-busting metalcore of By Death Design, the curled lip raunch rock of The Strip and the underrated post-punk of You In Series for proof that the kids are alright.

SLAVES OF THE SON KING, “Run Like Hell” ( This go-for-broke trio trades in the kind of sun-baked punk rock and roll that’s evocative of callused hands and weary livers. The band’s hard-eyed, blue collar jams are like a favorite concert T-shirt: familiar, well-worn and all the better for it.

Anchored by frisky drumming and the cannonball guitar of frontman Kelly English, who solos all over the place, the Slaves favor gritty, midpaced rockers about drinking hard, working harder and struggling to meet the demands of adulthood as a husband, father and provider.

“My wife’s telling me I’m almost done,” English laments on the sufficiently combustible “Detonate.”

This disc should convince her to hold on just a little longer.

Jason Bracelin’s “Sounding Off” column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 383-0476 or e-mail him at jbracelin@

Incarcerated Christmas
This is the fourth year HOPE for Prisoners has worked with the Nevada Department of Corrections to create a Christmas for prisoners to visit their families. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2018 Homeless Vigil
Straight From The Streets holds its 23rd annual vigil to remember the 179 homeless individuals who died in Clark County this year.
Getting through the Holiday blues
Psychologist Whitney Owens offers advice on keeping your mental health in check during the Holiday season in Henderson, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military program gave meal kits to 200 families at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10047 in Las Vegas Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. It all started with a chance encounter in a supermarket in Utica, N.Y., near Fort Drum. A soldier, his wife and infant had a handful of grocery items they couldn't afford. A Beam Suntory employee picked up the $12 cost for the groceries. The program has grown from providing 500 meal kits to military families in 2009 to providing more than 7,000 nationally this holiday season.K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women at WestCare Women Children Campus in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Former 51s manager Wally Backman chats about new job
Former Las Vegas 51s manager Wally Backman talks about his new job with the independent league Long Island Ducks during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Roy Choi on cooking for Park MGM employees
As he prepares to open his new restaurant Best Friend later this month at Park MGM, celebrity chef Roy Choi took the time to cook for the resort’s employees Tuesday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Great Santa Run
People participated in the 14th annual Las Vegas Great Santa Run which raises cubs for Opportunity Village.
World Holidays Exhibit At The Natural History Museum
Migratory Bird Day teaches adults and kids to celebrate birds
Different organizations offered activities for kids and adults to learn about birds and celebrate their migration journey at Sunset Park. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Interfaith Amigos speak in Las Vegas
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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