Little a

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Allston, MA, quartet Little a's third record doesn't sound all that different from their earlier releases, but that may not be such a good thing. Delivering straight-up alternative pop/rock, the kind that could easily be fodder for commercial radio, they've got the right idea for success, but it all comes out a bit bland. Fairly distorted guitars frame pop songs with quirky vocals that at times even sound like a punked-up Dave Matthews. They've got the requisite ballads, the chugging rockers, and some valiant attempts at memorable hooks. There are also some more complicated numbers, like the technology-influenced "Press Return," but it just doesn't do the trick and comes across as a failed effort at creativity. Alterna-rock fans might still dig a bunch of this record, as it has hints of true songwriting prowess, but more often than not they shift into wild stabs at prog rock that fall way short. When all is said and done, Little a is just another group who may have a solid bank of respectable influences, but wind up being the antithesis; a watered-down rock band whose experiments have gone awry and who really aren't bringing anything new to the genre.

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