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Publication: Syracuse New Times
Author: Zurell, Jes
Date published: May 2, 2012

Counter Pursuit (independent). There is such a thing as gateway drug music. In a nostalgic moment, indulge in a band that takes you back to a split-second in junior high when you first had a choice in what filled your ears. There may be an occasional album thrown your way that comes close to resurrecting that feeling of discovery, but few bands can come close to recalling your first favorite music. Syracuse's own Counter Pursuit is one of the few.

Ranging from sweeping, power chord-driven choruses to trippy verses and the occasional pop-punk moments, Counter Pursuit's self-titled LP brings grunge and alternative elements back to the table and serves them up piping hot. The band's solid riffs come to a satisfying resolution at the end of each track while still making musical sense with the ones that follow. Standout tracks include "Markel," which glides from sinewy simplicity to lush, booming choruses, as well as the creamy "Warehouse Love" and the poetic "Real Friends," where the band shows off its rhythmic chops. If you once loved the Foo Foo Fighters, can remember tossing your head around to early 311 and really want something that feels like the first time you ever heard Smashing Pumpkins' Ava Adore, Counter Pursuit will put a little love in your heart.

Mark Zane and Friends. Walk It Off (independent). Zane is at it again, bringing his salt-of-the-earth Americana and blues to Central New York listeners in this sophomore album, recorded at the Square Studio in Marcellus. Zane's style is honest, unembellished and classic, to which tracks like "I Got a Woman," and "Banjo in Your House" can attest.

The technical structure of Zane's work is standard blues. In as much time as it takes for each song to go in one ear, root around your insides and saunter out the other ear, endearing songs like "Me and the Devil" come across like familiar faces in a crowd, filled with decadent harmonica against finger-picked guitar. Zane's vocals-unrefined, straightforward and never out of tune- resemble plane-sawn pine boards: rough grain, a few knots for character, full of stories and, more than anything else, exactly as unpolished as they ought to be.

Zane holds a CD release party for Walk it Off on Friday, May 4, 7:30 p.m., at Kellish Hill Farm, 3192 Pompey Center Road, Manlius. Admission is free. For details, dial 682-1578.

-Jes Zurell

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