Junebug Spade makes solid music with little flair

Junebug Spade " "Fashion & Fame"

Oklahoma City quartet Junebug Spade has made a second album offering to follow last year's self-titled release. The two have many similarities: Both are EPs recorded with Trent Bell at his Norman studio, and both blend straight-ahead rock 'n' roll with a bit of odd arrangement and light experimentation.

The discs look the same on the rack, but despite their similar stitching, "Fashion & Fame" proves a more durable wear.

The five-song album winds to life with tremolo guitars on "Make You Go," which swirls at a steady pace with overlapping vocals by singer/guitarist Peter Seay II and bassist Brandon Reed. The song devolves to its framework and rebuilds with a wah-wah-pedaled guitar panic. The same basic blueprint is used on the following tune, the title-track, which is calmer, with smoother lead vocals and background harmonizing. The cut makes an interesting change toward the end, marked by a brief piano interlude that yields to a buzzy guitar solo; unfortunately, it's buried and brief.

"A Scent of Deception" is the album's weirdest and best. Jagged, misaligned guitar lines smash into Seay's tinny vocals and a sparser drumbeat, and the requisite guitar solo fades to reveal an interlude awash with psychedelic synthesizer sweeps.

Album closer "Under the Gun" has a restrained, Southern-rock feel, but doesn't twang or holler, even when the organ and piano swing in for a spell. It's not obvious where this song is headed, and because it mysteriously fades away without any climax or resolution, we may never know " but maybe we didn't want to know, anyway.

"Fashion & Fame" isn't trendy, which means it isn't tacky or already dated. The material isn't cheap and the craftsmen are clearly capable, but the record lacks the one element that makes for a stylish outfit: unexpected flair.  

Junebug Spade performs 10 p.m. Thursday at the Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E. Sheridan. Tickets are $6. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/junebugspade1. "Joe Wertz

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