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Music Review: A Sampling of Lovedrug

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Lovedrug is an Ohio-based indie rock band. Their debut Pretend You're Alive brought critical praise to Sunny Day Real Estate. While comparisons are warranted, Lovedrug has definitely carved out their own sound. Frontman Michael Shepard's voice is unmistakable and full of emotion and swagger. The band often integrates piano, quiet and loud sections, and most notably memorable melodies that stick to your ribs.

I loved the dark, moodiness on Pretend Your Alive and their expanded sound on Everything Starts Where It Ends. But, I wasn't drawn in by the samples I heard from their last release The Sucker Punch Show and it was not as well-received. Now, after a break from their record label, the band is working on new material and a fresh start.

Recently, I got the opportunity to listen to some of their new work. I'm happy to say that Lovedrug is as addictive as ever. The band appears to be thriving without pressures from the record label. The five demos have a more upbeat vibe than their older material and they all sound like they'd be fun to see performed live. Lovedrug may have tweaked their sound a bit, but for the most part they sound like the same band with maybe a dash of growth. To compare it to their previous work, the new songs aren't as dark as Pretend You're Alive and closer to the best of Everything Starts Where It Ends.

"Pink Champagne" exudes the positive vibe that carries through all of the new work. On "Dead in the Water" Shepard sings: "I might be down. But I'm not dead in the water". I don't know whether it's meant to reflect their current situation, but it plays like an aggressive comeback anthem. The upbeat track showcases excellent instrumentation including some great rocking out on the piano. It sounds like the band is really having some fun.

"She's Disaster" is not only the most memorable of these tracks, but it could also be one of the band's best to date. It's a bluesy, mellow gem with some interesting lyrics. The song's slow burn, eventually peels away to reveal a head nod-inducing clapping section. As usual, Shepard's vocals are enthralling and they really drawn you into the song.

It's great to hear Lovedrug's new songs, which I'm hoping to hear again on an upcoming release. In my opinion they're all as good as, and in some cases better than, their solid catalog of indie rock tracks. They recently announced they'll be performing at the 2010 South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin.

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