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Vertical Scratchers, April 5, The Crux

Dynamic Duo

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Any time a musician reaches into music history for inspiration, he or she chances being derivative. But sometimes the result is worth the risk. With John Schmersal (Crooks on Tape, Enon founder and ex-Brainiac guitarist) strumming and singing, and drummer Christian Beaulieu (co-founded Anywhere with The Mars Volta's Cedric Bixler-Zavala) setting a breakneck pace, Los Angeles-based rockers Vertical Scratchers reimagine and reinvigorate old-school forms, delivering short tracks--few are longer than two minutes--that are addictively listenable.

The band's debut album, Daughter of Everything (Merge Records, Feb. 25, 2014), is 15 tracks of deceptively scaled-back tunes that are a mix of '60s Brit rock, '90s grunge and 21st century exploration, seasoned in the California sun.