Mary Janes

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Janas Hoyt is a little bit Chrissie Hynde, a little bit Lou Reed, and a little bit Lucinda Williams. The Mary Janes are a little bit folk, a little bit country, a little bit Velvet Underground, and a whole lot alternative -- and, as this album attests, this is a great thing. "Telescope" is highly reminiscent of the John Cale-era Velvets, and doesn't try to hide its derivative nature (especially with the sawing and moaning viola). But with Hoyt's sweet voice spread all over the noisy fuss, it's easy to forgive the obvious tribute (especially because the Mary Janes attack the song with the earnest fervor of recent converts). This album shows Hoyt to be a vocalist of many moods and styles and, more intriguingly, a delightful oddball in the spirit of Maria McKee. Hoyt has chops too -- big time. Just listen to her rend a heart in two with her dynamics on "Lucky Stars." Other highlights include the title track, "Bruises and Breaks," "Junie Moon," and the delightfully upbeat roots pop of "Better Way." This Bloomington, IN, band continues to take Americana in a fascinating direction on this sophomore effort.

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