The Honeycutters play at Jack of the Wood on Saturday, Nov. 21. 9:30 p.m., $5. www.myspace.com/thehoneycutters.
Key's Under the Mat by Ol' Hoopty
Despite the lush, professional quality of Ol' Hoopty's new disc, there's something friendly and casual about Key's Under the Mat. First, there's the welcoming title, and then the extensive cast of local guest musicians, from guitarist Tom Leiner and cellist Billy Jack Sincovic to vocalists Stephanie Morgan and Peggy Ratusz. But Ol' Hoopty's singer/songwriter/musician collective (Bill Norlin, George Scott, Steve Cohen and Mike Berlin), with the addition of velvet-voiced Crystal Bray, make for a fully-realized lineup. Song selections touch on themes of Americana, blues and rock, but the band really reaches its stride on keys-driven, horn-accented R&B-flavored numbers like "Step Back Baby."
Ol' Hoopty plays the Doors of Asheville benefit for Mountain Housing Opportunities at The Orange Peel on Thursday, Nov. 19, 6:30 p.m. www.olhoopty.com.
Revealing Secrets by Lewis
From the first notes, singer/songwriter/guitarist/engineer Matt Call's voice is a controlled burn; opening track "Holidays" is Psychedelic Furs revisited, perfectly complimented with fuzzy guitarus and shimmering percussion. Though Lewis takes some cues from '80s and '90s rock, this is no throwback band. Instead, new wave synths are replaced with grungy strings and clarion melody lines are remade garage-rough. But Call's lush vocals, delivered in relaxed baritone and seemingly effortless falsetto, remain clear and up front in the recording. Lewis, always adept at radio-ready pop, delivers a seamless collection of rugged dreamscapes and disquieted love songs.
Learn more at www.myspace.com/lewisland.
Deep in the Moonlight by Dave Wendelin
Though Deep in the Moonlight is the debut release of singer/songwriter/guitarist Dave Wendelin, the 10-song album has an accomplished polish, probably the result of existing (unrecorded) in this musician's mind for decades. Wendelin's songs are simple and heartfelt, his instrumentation tastefully minimal. Bluesy tracks like "My Heart Skips a Beat" and "Blues for You Baby" (both featuring harmonica by John Hupertz with whom Wendelin performs at Westville Pub's weekly blues jam) reveal the musician at his best. Wendelin's gritty voice and low-key style call to mind J.J. Cale; his earnest, folky ballads tend toward the Peter Yarrow end of the spectrum.
Dave Wendelin performs at The Well Bred Bakery on Friday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m. www.davewendelin.com.
Greatest Hips Volume II by Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
It's often hard to translate a live show to disc; even more challenging when the live show in question is the high-energy, funk-fueled antics of the Booty Band. Greatest Hips Vol. II goes a long way toward conveying the band's sense of rhythm and bounce, not to mention its party prowess. At times the sonic melange — horns, vocals, drums — are overwhelming, but there are also shining moments. The ridiculously groovy, affects-laden intro to "Splitting Hairs" could have been culled straight from Soul Train and the gorgeously raunchy brass on "Horn Star" makes for a standout track.
Learn more at www.bootyband.com.
Riding On Your Wings by Lorraine Conard
Don't mistake the title of singer/songwriter Lorraine Conard's recently-released disc: There's no adult contemporary sap here. "Have mercy on me. .. oh angel, let me be," she pleads on the country rocker "Angels Are Following Me." Conard's lyrics are instantly comfortable yet avoid cliche; her vocals are dusky and hint at bad-girl inclinations. Fiery woman-wronged numbers like "Sitting Tight" and "Train A' Coming" deserve bad ass boots and line dancers; the darkly driving "Heading Down to New Orleans" confirms that Wings is devilishly good.
Learn more at www.lorraineconard.com.
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The Honeycutters play Jack of the Wood on Saturday, Nov. 21. Their latest is Irene.