Monongalia

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This West Virginia band adds an infectious enthusiasm to its poppy brand of rock, and guitarists Jim Bidwell and Mike Arbogast adeptly throw in some joyous six-string sparks throughout the rocking “Shotgun” and the cheery “Beautiful.” The New Relics’ lyrics incorporate that same free spirit, filled with images of weekends, fast cars and moments spent with a favorite girl. The band’s style of heartland rock is catchy, but the real drawback is singer Josh Swiger’s lead vocals, which, despite plenty of swagger and emotional clout, are beset with an irritatingly nasal quality. Swiger’s bandmates pitch in competently on harmony vocals, but the combination of their imprecise delivery and a flawed blend of these elements in the CD’s overall sound muddles this otherwise spirited effort.

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