There Goes the Neighborhood

Ten local albums that kept the home fires blazing— then burned down the house

Haley Bonar
Lure the Fox
Afternoon Records

It's hard not to be jealous of Haley Bonar. At 22, she's amassed three albums, rave reviews, and stage time with Neko Case and the Arcade Fire. But one listen to her latest alt-country release, Lure the Fox, and all is forgiven. Bonar's voice is strong beyond her years, backed by soft, lollygagging guitars and gentle drums. Her songs start small, with plodding beats or tinkling piano, and build into lush arrangements full of wailing vocals and passionate chords. "Don't let me give it up," she pleads on the seventh track, a haunting song with morbid overtones. Not to worry, Haley—we're not planning on it. —Mary O'Regan

The God Damn Doo Wop Band
Broken Hearts
Afternoon Records

You'd think this band of punky coffee shop workers (brewsters?) would have a fairly sharp edge, especially considering their Commandment-breaking name and affinity for photo shoots with bloody baseball bats. As it turns out, you'll find raunchier doo-wop on the Little Shop of Horrors soundtrack. Broken Hearts never goes further than first base ("Tell me, tell me/How much longer till I can kiss you?") and nobody gets hurt in the process (at least not physically), but that didn't stop us from heaping gobs of praise on the God Damn Doo Wop Band's otherwise killer debut. As the title suggests, there's plenty of heartache spread throughout these nine original puppy-crush tunes, made all the more poignant by the singers' spot-on three-part harmonies and the guitarist's period-perfect tremolo work. It's for fans of pop punk, dual-strawed malt glasses, Twin Peaks, and cute girls in poodle skirts. By our calculation, that's about 99 percent of the entire freaking universe. —Chuck Terhark

Kill the Vultures
The Careless Flame
JIB Door

"The careless flame don't burn the same," sing-raps Crescent Moon on "Strangers in the Doorways," and neither do Kill the Vultures. They'd rather burn in a way no hip-hop crew ever has—and the whiskey-stinking hobo racket of The Careless Flame certainly does. Crescent Moon's rough flow sounds as confused as it is smart, and he serves as the perfect argument for rappers to look as deep into their own psyches as DJs do their record vaults. Speaking of which, KtV's super-producer Anatomy reaches further than ever on The Careless Flame; check out this note from the album's credits: "track #2 contains flute elements from collected Syrian flute songs." As Prince Paul told XLR8R magazine of these guys, "If you get high or are the serious mad-at-the-world type, you'll love this." You don't actually have to meet either of those qualifications. But it helps. —Chuck Terhark

Jeremy Messersmith
The Alcatraz Kid
Princess Records

Jeremy Messersmith writes about Everyman's fat cousin, the one who does something with computers, maybe, and whose social life makes Walter Mitty look like Keith Moon. The singer-songwriter's cautious heroes come home not around 7:00, but precisely at 7:02. When urged to follow a lover to the West Coast, they hop in the Focus, and head in early for work. —Dylan Hicks

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