Easy riders The Hasslers kick out an atypical pop album The opening track to the eponymous record from The Hasslers—a peppy little number called “It’s Terminal”—is a perfect introduction to the rest of the record. It’s got a nice hillstomping kick that will surely invite folks to the dance floor, and just enough of an Americana vibe to distract you into thinking that’s what this band is all about. But to call it a folk record, or Americana, would be inaccurate. The record delivers catchy melodies, robust harmonies and excellent production courtesy of Missoula’s own Travis Yost and his Year of the Kangaroo Recording studio. If I were to label it at all, I’d simply call it pop music. The instrumentation may be a little atypical for pop music, but replace the banjo with a keyboard and the fiddle with guitar leads or lap steel (“Not In Idaho” and “True Blue” for example) and you’d have a perfect example of a breed of AOR that would fit happily on any mainstream rock radio station, or even on a modern country station. “Necromancer’s Waltz” is a song that, with the lead vocal styling and its swinging rhythm and breakdowns, would have been right at home on that track Rob Thomas did with Carlos
Santana a few years ago. It’s probably my favorite song on the record. It’s okay that the influences of this band take them down plenty of musical avenues. Pop music tends to be a catch-all for a lot of sounds that are easy on the ear. It’s a rollicking debut that would be a safe, somewhat quirky bet to go over well with the masses. And if the Hasslers are up for it, their next one could even take a few more risks. (Chris La Tray) The Hasslers play an album release show at the Top Hat Sat., June 15, at 8 PM with King Elephant. Free.
Zebrassieres The Ottowa punk band’s most recent album, I Am A Human, is full of poppy, energetic punk backed by synthesizers. It takes less time to listen to than it does to drink my coffee, but it provides more than enough of a caffeine jolt. Songs like “Economy Lobotomy” give Zebrassieres’ music a dash of B-horror and sci-fi vibe. It calls to mind my favorite synth-backed punk band, The Spits, though Zebrassieres doesn’t push the robot schtick nearly as much. The band’s vocals are bouncy, often call-and-response between lead singer Andrew Payne and keyboardist/singer Iva Borojevic.
Accordoing to the Bandcamp, Zebrassieres’ live line-up is different than the record’s, since Ketamines members from Toronto play in the band on tour. It’s a bit of a shame if Iva’s not at the show, because brassy female vocals add some sweetness to an otherwise male-dominated sound. I’d guess that Zebrassieres, regardless of membership, isn’t too cool to goof around and have fun. That’s just the way I like it. (Kate Whittle) Zebrassieres play the VFW Thu., June 13, at 9 PM with The Ketamines and J. Sherri. $5.
Tina and Her Pony There’s a certain AM radio quality to the folk stylings of Tina and Her Pony. It’s soft around the edges, and like the Appalachian music that inspired it and the deserts of New Mexico that now house it, it’s occasionally desolate. The lady duo’s debut album is an old take on an old sound, but the lyrics feel genuine and the melodies linger in your brain longer than you’d think from first listen. “Ana Bai” really gets me, and not just for cellist and singer Quetzal Jordan really filling out the low end with a
full voice you don’t normally associate with strings. For most of the album, Tina Collins leads with the higher notes and any number of stringed instruments, but the balance with Jordan is striking. “Winter in the West,” one of the more rollicking numbers, really pushes the two-part bluegrass harmony at least an octave and a half apart. Some tracks fit the normal pattern of “Americana,” but most differ enough to make it worth several listens. (Brooks Johnson) Tina and Her Pony play the Top Hat Thu., June 13, at 6 PM. Free.
Generationals Generationals’ songs are as diverse as the city they hail from. The New Orleans pop duo hits that balance between hooks and musical chaos, resulting in simple, clean songs. Driven by keyboard, guitar and drums, the short tracks appeal to short attention spans, and the mixture of styles means there’s a little something for everyone. An old track from the band’s first album, “When They Fight, They Fight,” is a little too sunny. Anything containing the well-trodden line “I love you, baby” de-
serves a little cynicism. Still, the tinny vocals from cofrontmen Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer are catchy, like a familiar riff you might whistle over and over again. Newer tracks off this year’s Heza include a wash of surfsounding guitar. For the best primer on Generationals, listen to the upbeat 2011’s Greenleaf. It makes it pretty hard to stay in a bad mood. (Brooks Johnson) Generationals and Young Empires play the Badlander Fri., June 14, at 9 PM. $10/$7 advance at Ear Candy and stonefly-productions.com.
missoulanews.com • June 13 – June 20 , 2013 
Published on Jun 12, 2013