Inside Track 

Here's the typical rock 'n' roll time line -- band records, tours, breaks up, and then the singer/guitarist ODs. Well, after 12 years, Rik Surly (Deviltones) decided to restart the time line of Mean Mean Man & the Brass Knuckle Band. The band features another current Deviltone, Mike Calhoun, on drums, and a former Deviltone, Brent Panzer, on guitar, as well as Uncle Hank Fauerbach from The Dregs on the doghouse bass. Also filling in the gaps for real rock 'n' roll in Richmond is Panzer's other band, US Brass. After hitting the studio, US Brass will play Saturday, Dec. 29, at Ramakins with the still kickin' Red Angel Dragnet.

Take three remnants of The Cheap Seats, add Kevin Willoughby of You Guys Are Girls on drums, and you have Orioles! The band has spent the last 10 months writing, perfecting and rehearsing all new songs, with five already recorded.

Richmonders have a not-so-secret love for pop songs, and Gallery5 will let you confess during the third annual Ghost of Pop Festival Saturday, Dec. 8. Sing along to Mermaid Skeletons, The Dakota Ring, Palominos, Jason Horst & The Best of the Worst, David Shultz & The Skyline, Prabir & The Substitutes. The Best of the Worst is the latest project from Jason Horst, who's fronted a number of other Richmond bands, like Jason & the Vacations, the X-Ray Dudes, The Sound and Supercomp.

Legend has it that the seeds of Hamburger James were sown during a trip to Memphis in the summer of 2005. Bassist Will Armstrong finally forced their hand last year when he booked them to play backup for rockabilly legend Janis Martin at the 12 Fl. Oz. Barn Dance. Now, with 15 songs in the bag after a stint at Metro Sound Studios, get ready for their debut album, "The Last Plane to Memphis." The boys will also pay tribute to the late Ms. Martin, aka "The Female Elvis," at another Barn Dance next year. Check back here for more details.

Leading the pack for Richmond reggae is Crucial Elements, which now has a new CD out entitled "Jamocracy." The 11 original tracks were recorded by Lance Koehler at Minimum Wage Studios and feature guest brass from trumpeter Scott Frock and trombonist Dave Brogan, both formerly of Hotel X and currently in the Upper East Side Big Band, plus more trumpet from Marcus Tenney and trombone from Sam Savage of the Savage Jazz Band.

Multi-instrumentalists Michael Otley, Phil Barbato, Oura Sananikone have already put out records together as We Are Childhood Equals and the more slow-core Vr. Together with Karen Creighton, who sang in I Saved Latin and Ramona Forever, they formed indie-rock quartet Now Sleepyhead. Their first full-length, to be released on Michael's PopFaction Records, was recorded by Allen Berghendahl at Viking, with production by Gabe Beverly from Monarch on a coupla tracks.

Acoustic space-rockers the Mason Brothers are also releasing their first full-length. Out the beginning of December, "The Sun, the Moon & the Sea" was produced by Mike Reina at Brink Analog Studios in Centreville and mastered at Sterling Sound in NYC by Justin Shturtz, who's done work for Ray LaMontagne, My Chemical Romance and 50 Cent. — Compiled by Mike Rutz of "Activate" on 97.3 and Jay Smack of "Studio B" on 102.1

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