Portland riff-rockin' trio turn in a solid sophomore album.
Portland rockers Kleveland bring a hard-riffin' bar-band sound to a musical age in which a style so basic and devoid of pretense is actually incredibly rare. They're not alternative, grunge, metal, garage, glam, or indie (except in the literal sense that the band isn't signed to any label, much less a major). Kleveland just rocks. The star of this trio is lead singer and guitarist Stephanie Smith, who snarls with gutsy bravado. Her backing band tends to play by the numbers, but they bring the heavy rhythms and lay back when necessary, as on "Flat Tax". Offering their best use of dynamics, it's the catchiest number on the group's self-titled sophomore album. Mostly, Kleveland deal in dark, chugging riffs and power chords. Occasionally, they lock into a heady groove and hit on the mercurial power of the Stooges. More often, Kleveland is just pretty good.