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CD Review: Lamb Handler 

The Deal: Charlotte rockers release sophomore disc, Jingle Jangle, on Coma Gun Records.

The Good: With the opening riffs of "You Should Shut Your Mouth," Lamb Handler might sound rockabilly along the lines of Rev. Horton Heat, but by the time Moe Lassiz's vocals kick in, it sounds more like Queens of the Stone Age. The band finds a way to combine rock, punk, country, rockabilly, hints of pop sensibility and a down-and-dirty ethic into its own sound. The vocals are crisp, the mix is clean, but it's still the kind of music you want to hear when the beer is flowing, the smoke is thick and the lighting's dark. Hints of twang may appear from time to time – such as in the guitar of "Devil Dawg" – but the album has a solid rock foundation throughout its 16 tracks. I expected to find a handful of tossaway tracks, but there isn't a weak one in the bunch, and that includes a unique cover of Megadeth's "Peace Sells ... but Who's Buying." The band keeps the energy and sound intact from its first album, The Shepherds of Rock, but there's a step up in the quality of songwriting here.

The Bad: Too many people hesitate to give locals a chance, but these guys have put together an album that's better than a lot of the crap that sells out bigger venues.

The Verdict: The CD release party is being held on Jan. 23 at Snug Harbor – just the right venue for these guys to show off a fantastic new album. The songs show crafting that comes along with experience and plenty of hours on stage – the energy and enthusiasm you find in hundreds of garage bands without the "amateur hour" flavor or sounding like it was recorded on an old four-track.

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