Brad Hodgson, "Runs On Blood": We're thinking In the Pines leader Brad Hodgson runs on more than just blood. Not only was he instrumental in his band's masterful debut; it turns out he's secretly been making his own brand of chilling, ethereal, experimental folk on the side. A pattern of bent notes on an acoustic guitar sets a hollow mood, darkened by a repeating banjo riff, distant drums and cabin-smoke synth tones. His voice comes in, subdued and clenched, as if he's barely moving his jaw. You'd expect this method to produce something found on Will Oldham's cutting floor, but Hodgson has a knack for drawing out feelings with sound. Put "Runs On Blood" on repeat while taking a nap, and you'll wake up in Alaska. Hodgson's MySpace page is In the Pines' basement and not many people have dropped by (just over 550 page views as of this writing). So check it out. And grab a sweater it's cold down there. www.myspace.com/bhodgson
Be/Non, "Freedom Palace": If "Freedom Palace" is any indication, then the rumors are true: Be/Non is sitting on something incredible. That would be a finished album of adventurous, '70s-inspired space rock that brings together Queen and Frank Zappa and dresses them in sparkling bodysuits and rocket boots. A legal entanglement with Be/Non's label has sidelined the album's release until further notice, which sucks for admirers of bandleader Brodie Rush's eccentric prog-rock vision. Fortunately, Rush's top-notch band John Huff on keyboards, Adam Stotts on guitar, Ben Ruth on bass and Mike Cochran on drums still rocks local venues and sounds great. It's just too bad that as of now, you can't take 'em home. www.myspace.com/thebenon
The Republic Tigers, "Made Concrete": The Golden Republic has officially disbanded. A listen to "Made Concrete" makes that news easier to take hell, it makes just about anything easier to take. The Republic Tigers, a six-man sound squad with ex-Golden Republic guitarist Kenn Jankowski up front, burst onto the scene in the latter half of this year like an exuberant high school basketball team breaking through the pep squad's banner. The Tigers layer a standard rock combo with keys, samples and lilting vocal harmonies to create a blend of progressive pop that's unheard in these parts and utterly transporting. Some of it's so good, you gotta wonder where these musicians are really from is there, like, a magical cave under Crown Center, or what? (We also expect greatness from Soft Reeds, the band formed by the other ex-members of the Golden Republic.) www.myspace.com/therepublictigers
It's Over, "Hallelujah": If It's Over had produced a full-length, it would have been a shoe-in for the album list. The band did release an EP that rocked, but we hear there's an LP in the works and we don't want to jump the gun. Anyway, It's Over's prominence among the newer bands on the scene made this year at least 19 percent more fun for area music fans (at least, that's what Doug, our in-house sociologist, says). Clad in vintage business attire, the charming lads of It's Over party like it's 1933 and Prohibition has just been repealed. But there's a children's-book innocence to the band's jangly pop, too, that's evident in "Hallelujah," with its declaration I'm gonna throw out all of my cares today/I'm gonna go out with all of my prayers and say/Hallelooooyah. Mr. Rogers would've pumped a fist to that. www.myspace.com/itsoverkansas city
Listen to Hallelujah from It's Over.
The Rich Boys, "Jesus": Late-year arrivals the Rich Boys are so young, so debauched and so rock and roll, it's almost scary. They've played only a handful of gigs, but they have the stage presence of road-hardened old-timers. Or maybe it's their youth and naïvete that help them act like rock stars, tearing up every blues lick and popping open every PBR can with lips curled and heads held high. In any case, these Last of the V8s protégés (says we) are welcome additions to a scene that suffers from a shortage of good old sleazy '70s garage rock. Unfortunately, the recording quality of the tracks on their MySpace doesn't do justice to the live show, so if you go to the address below, do it mainly to find upcoming gigs. But if you want a taste, click on "Jesus" and note the chorus Killing in the street, bodies in the gutter/Jesus Christ must be a mean motherfucker/Live my life, yeah, I'll try/I'm better off dead than livin' a lie. That's philosophy right there, goddamn it. www.myspace.com/therichboys