Annie McGee by Sterilize Stereo from Bugs and Daymares (self-released):
From a band named Sterilize Stereo, one would expect punk rock, maybe, or some kind of minimalist German techno. One would be wrong. This fledgling KC-Lawrence band sounds like gypsy freak folkers doing numbers from a lost 1930s protest musical. Though the instrumentation is unconventional — bowed cello instead of bass, a member who doubles on piano and mandolin — the star of Bugs and Daymares, the band's debut, is singer and acoustic-guitar strummer Jake Kersley. His histrionic, youthful voice has the comedic baritone growl of Mike Doughty and the wannabe-gospel-singer flair of Rufus Wainwright. Though the band isn't too timid to kick out the Zeppelin-via-Romania stomps ("Bezerka Mazurka," "Lungs & a Liver," "The Dirge"), the arrangements find the instruments following the mad frontman across a proglike landscape of frequent, crashing changes. The approach is more about expression than melody, so there's not much to sing along with on Daymares but plenty to listen to. In concert, Sterilize stomps and hoots like mad vaudevillians. The name may be ill-advised, but the sound is far from sterile.