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The Heroine: So far, so good

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The new Heroine album (and first original one with EMG) will come out next year. But you don't have to wait — besides catching them live (they'll blow you away), get their first two recordings, available everywhere.

The Heroine
The Heroine
Self-released (2007)
★★★
Hard-rocking local heroes The Heroine fired their first shot with this release, really little more than an EP. It's the work of a band still in its formative stages but eager to get their sound out into the world, and that shows in ways both good and bad. Opener "Let's Burn It Down" lives up to the title's promise as a rager, even though lead singer Lynwood King doesn't have full control of his voice. He assumes the position on the second track, the wonderfully anthemic "Lover's Will," which manages to sound modern while recollecting some of the better '80s video-age fist-pumpers. Naming a song after your band is risky, especially when it's as weak as "The Heroine" (a solid guitar riff is lost beneath King's splattered hardcore vocal), but the band gets back in gear again with the rollicking, sprawling "Deceit is a Dirty Word." "The Fight" slows everything down as it closes things out — it's not quite a ballad, but it's definitely The Heroine accessing its sensitive side, with mixed results. Lackluster production (especially poor work on the drum sound) keeps this from being a real success, but it delivers at least three songs of real promise. — Leonard Pierce

The Heroine
Playing for Keeps
1st Amendment (2008), and new mix by EMG (2012)
★★★★
The Heroine's first real full-length album finds them, unsurprisingly, much improved from their debut EP. For one thing, Lynwood King has really learned how to use his voice to great effect, largely abandoning the screamo pretense of the band's earlier work and harnessing his true hard rock leaning (as evidenced on a hugely revitalized version of "Let's Burn It Down"). The drum sound is also much tighter and better, as is the production as a whole — the Heroine finally sounds like it's made a real record and not just an attempt at one. The material is a bit too inwardly focused and self-impressed at times ("Hard Working Man" convinces far better with riffs than lyrics, and not too many bands can get away with having their lead singer write ballads about himself), but when it jumps into pure adrenaline-pumping rock territory (as on the terrific "Playing for Keeps" and "Texas Star"), the band sounds like some filthy Sunset Boulevard sleaze-rockers transported through time and space to force us to appreciate them. Playing for Keeps is a major upgrade for the band, and finally a worthy recorded companion to the Heroine's legendary live shows.

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