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Local musicians present their recording hopes and dreams for fall.

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Since fall is a big time for new releases, we've decided to tell you what we know about recordings local musicians have been working on — what to expect and when to expect it.

Read on and you'll get useful information about big-name artists like Cracker and Terry Garland. You'll learn about Metal Mike and his playful electronic music, how far River City High have taken their admiration of Loverboy and whether John Majer cares if people listen. We've also included some pretty pictures for those of you who don't want to read or learn anything.

River City High "Won't Turn Down" The first and last time I checked their mp3.com Web address they had made $489.72 in mp3.com earnings. I went there to listen to a song or two from their upcoming full length, and almost made it through a whole song. Yes, after two EPs and many months of touring, River City High is finally putting out a real record. It comes out on Doghouse/Big Wheel Sept. 18. "Won't Turn Down" is, well, it's just what you'd expect from a band whose guitarist wears a cowboy hat and admires Loverboy. On the other hand, they're really out there trying to make it, playing their guts out 200 times a year. They just finished the Warped Tour this summer and then lost no time getting dates in support of Blink-182.

Broken Hips (Untitled) It's been quite a while since Phil Murphy (rear) and Jessica Bittner debuted at Hole in the Wall as a guitar and musical-saw duo with the frail name Toothpick. Since then, Bittner married Bryan Hoffa (right), a recording engineer at Sound of Music, and her new husband joined the group, which has been playing around town over the past two years as the Broken Hips. They're going into the studio at the end of October to finish up a full-length. Hoffa says it's a stripped-down version of their eerily atmospheric music. Look for a possible show at Alley Katz with Denali on Oct. 20.

Spokane "The Proud Graduates" Anyone who labels Spokane's music as depressing or boring needs to take "The Proud Graduates" out for a late-night drive. This deep and beautiful recording is one of the most talked-about new albums around here and for good reason. Rick Alverson seems to have finally refined his songwriting vision with Courtney Bowles tempering the vocals and Karl Runge spiking the melody with his violin. "The Proud Graduates" is Spokane's second album. It will be released nationally on Jagjaguwar Sept. 17.



Regan (Untitled) Regan has been retreating to a friend's home overlooking the James where she has built a small studio to work on her upcoming, second album. "It's a really great vibe here," she says of the place. "We've done 10 songs so far, and I've got the Agents of Good Roots guys working on it." She says her new album — to be released in late October — will be much more direct, pop-oriented and listener-friendly, with "songs that would fit right in on the radio station." She says she wants to expand her audience. Selling more records is always nice, too.



The Shiners "Bonnie Blue" Wes Freed is already sketching the album cover for this new disc by his new band, The Shiners, which formed immediately after the breakup of his previous alt-country act, Dirt Ball. They recorded it at The Annex in Carytown. The core members brought in guests like Kirk Rundstrom, the dobro and steel player from Split Lip Rayfield, coronet player Paul Watson from GriefBirds, fiddler Erin Snyder (the lead from "The Thrillbillys" film Wes starred in) and Travis Charbeneau. They're trying to release "Bonnie Blue" Oct. 31 and plan to kick it off with an in-town performance that night.

Terry Garland "Out Where the Blue Begins" "Big in Japan" is a cliché and a joke but Terry Garland really is big over there, and even more so in Europe. They eat up that country-blues sound, even when it's played by a white guy. "Out Where the Blue Begins" is Garland's first album of new material since 1996. It comes out locally by the end of September and features longtime collaborator Mark Wenner from The Nighthawks.

Bio Ritmo (Untitled) Two major changes Bio Ritmo fans will notice about the group: a female vocalist up front and a full drum kit in the rear, meaning higher notes and a heavier rhythm section. "[The sound] has gone back to more straight salsa, a more straight Cuban sound," says keyboardist Charlie Kilpatrick. Expect a new release sometime this fall, he says. Bio Ritmo is putting on a 10-year anniversary party Sept. 14 at Alley Katz featuring old and new members.

Cracker "Forever" Somebody close to this recording who will remain nameless told us that he thought the new Cracker album might carry the fantastic title "Guarded by Monkeys." Then at the 11th hour we get word right from the lips of Dave Lowery that he's calling it "Forever." The execs over at Virgin are probably relieved. "Forever" has a Kinks-meets-Southern-rock sound, Lowery says. Release date: Jan. 9.

J. Rawls "Kid Get Hip" This is the side project of John Majer (center). He is a tall man who wears severe black-framed military-issue glasses. He was one-half of the guitar duo in Lazy Cain. When Cam Dinunzio went on to form Denali, Majer kept the group's bass player and started J. Rawls. He says that he's given up the kind of tricky, arty indie rock he wrote in Lazy Cain. "We would feel really good [about the music] but nobody would give a rat's ass," he says. "I realized if I heard the music I was playing, I would say, 'I wouldn't listen to this.' This is the first time I've made a recording with the listener in mind." The tentative name for the album? "Right now," Majer says, "I'm thinking 'Kid Get Hip.'" Out in January.

GriefBirds "Paper Radio" This is the first recording by the GriefBirds, a self-described old-timey pop band. They recorded it at Urban Geek Studio in Woodland Heights, and it was mastered by Bob Rupe from Cracker. "I think it's strangely timeless," says Coby Batty (left), the group's lead singer. "I think it's got a lot of charm. It's got its own peculiar vibe. ... It was just an eight-track analog recording, very old-fashioned. Rupe pronounced it 'a very vibey record.'" The album is out now locally, with a national release scheduled for Sept. 18 on Planetary Records. The GriefBirds begin a fall tour Aug. 31 from the Adirondacks to Athens, Ga.

Metal "Run Amok" Mike Ryan (Metal Mike) says he's been standing behind the counter of Grace Street's urban clothing store Exile for two years. For some reason it seems longer than that. His first solo project, Metal, puts him behind two samplers and two effects units where he pastes together his own sounds to produce dark but playful electronic music soundscapes. "It's playful," Metal Mike agrees. "It's electronic." Soon you can get your very own vinyl recording of electronic music by Metal. He hopes his new 12-inch, "Run Amok," will be out on a new local label called Starry Eyed Stories by late September or early October.

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