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Inside Track: Richmond Music News

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Just when you thought it couldn't get any bleaker, Jonathan Vassar and the Speckled Bird will stir your spirit with their first full-length, “Signs and Wonders.” The Southern Gothic folk quartet has swelled its heart-wrenching arrangements with assistance from violinist Jessika Blanks of Zac Hryciak and the Jungle Beat, and percussionist Willis Thompson of the Diamond Center, as well as mixing and production from member Josh Quarles in his Book House Studios. The album is release No. 10 for Richmond's Triple Stamp Records.

Adding a new wrinkle to its already rambunctious jazz compositions, Ombak is joined by J.C. Kuhl of the Agents of Good Roots and Modern Groove Syndicate on bass clarinet and baritone and tenor saxophones. Catch one the band's gigs to hear material from Ombak's second full-length album, which is being recorded at Trey Pollard's Songwire Studios.

After fiddling for a few years in Gorgeous and a Cramps tribute band, vocalist Sean McClain has reanimated the easy, sleazy and greasy rock combo Chrome Daddy Disco. This new incarnation sees Gorgeous alums Jim Wark (Style Weekly's former publisher) and Kyle Christian on Fender Telecaster and bass respectively, as well as Ricky Tubb from the Waking Hours on drums. Find out if Chrome Daddy Disco can still bring it low-down and dirty when it plays with the Dexter Romweber Duo on Dec. 19 at Bandito's.

Following up her demo CD and a taped performance for the Live at Ipanema series, singer and songwriter Julie Karr has recorded a proper debut album with Lance Koehler at Minimum Wage. The sparse instrumentation on “Julery” underscores Karr's compelling voice, which sounds right at home with the old-time blues singers from the early 20th century. If you listen closely on a few songs, you'll hear banjo and slide guitar courtesy of Josh Small, who also recorded a new record with Koehler. The album should be released this winter on Suburban Home Records, in time to help keep you warm and fuzzy.

It has to be a challenge making the drastic tempo switch from playing old-school hardcore in White Cross to playing grungy sludge-metal in Druglord. If anyone's up for it, it's bassist Greta Brinkman, who recently formed Druglord with guitarist and vocalist Tommy Hamilton of Sour Milk Sea and former Ugly Law drummer Bobby Hufnell. Their first four-song EP is out now, while White Cross is working on new songs for a 7-inch record release early next year.

Any self-respecting honky-tonk or rockabilly act should cut a song or two at Sun Studio, the holy grail of recording facilities. Since Hamburger James mixes up both genres with a heaping dose of rock 'n' roll, its trip to Memphis, Tenn., was all but predestined. The results of that visit finally will see the light this month with the group's second full-length, “Watch That Cadillac Burn.” You can sample tracks on its online jukebox at hamburgerjames.com, and preorders of the album come with a free CD single with the exclusive bonus tracks “Mystery Train” and “Hillbilly Man.” Rhythm guitarist Andy Vaughan also polishes his classic country chops in his new band, Andy Vaughan and the Driveline, featuring members of the Cy Taggart Band, the Sort and the Chiggers. The eggnog is sure to be spiked when they play the Country Christmas Caravan with Loversville and the Chiggers on Dec. 17 at the Triple.

A veteran of Richmond bands such as Ann Beretta and Red Angel Dragnet, bassist Danny Vandiford probably hasn't taken a vacation from music in the past decade. His latest efforts have sprouted two bands, the crust-punk trio 45 A.D., formed with members of the Misled, and the more straightforward rock group Pistol Whip Nikki, featuring members of Sana Rouge and Meat Cleaver.

The alien funk and jazz fusion three-piece Near Earth Objects landed in Sound of Music Studios to finish up anew record with John Morand. Now available on iTunes, “Manual for Self Hypnosis” contains guest appearances by guitarist Alan Parker and trumpet player Mark Ingraham, both of Bungalo 6 and many other groups. S

Inside Track is compiled by Mike Rutz of “Activate!” on 97.3-FM WRIR.

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