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Love Mound: The Noose, the Tree, and the Desert Sky (Hover Tank) 

A critic's bag of clichés spills open when one attempts to describe the big-bang thunder and primal thrust of Love Mound. But that's probably because the local trio incorporates the spirit and sound of many renowned head-bangin' bands—from Black Sabbath to Queens of the Stone Age—and, in the process, carves a unique slice of hard rock from the traditions that preceded it.

Judging from this new nine-song CD, Love Mound looks for inspiration perhaps most respectfully in the proto-metal and psychedelic blues of Jimi Hendrix, although guitarist Mike Mihina seems to favor Hendrix's monster riffs (best example: "Black Mountain") over psychotronic leads, rarely indulging in solos of longer than a few seconds. He deserves credit for his tasteful restraint; you could call it a no-wank zone.

Here, the arrangements are as important as the generous riffage. The embarrassing wealth of snarling guitar, slapping bottom (courtesy of bassist Chris Mihina) and refreshingly limber rhythms (thanks to drummer James Mayer) all dovetail together in a soulful groove. The result is a refreshingly pleasing listen, punctuated by tasty sonic treats, from the Alice in Chains thud of "Black Is the River" to the T. Rex-influenced blues-glam stutter of "The Quick and the Dead" to the Southern-fried boogie-rock bridge on "Outlaws We'll Ride."

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