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Auk! 

Friday, December 19; Mississippi Nights

The VH1 Save the Music Foundation is sponsoring a two-night festival this weekend at Mississippi Nights, featuring fourteen local bands. So whats the band to catch? Who's going to be kicking ass and taking names for the Lou? Who's going to save the music for us?

Come on, they must have booked one band you'll want to catch.

Not one?

Oh, wait, found one. Auk! (fifth from the top Friday night's bill) makes pretty, inoffensive pop that beats the ever-loving Jesus out of headliners Greenwheel. The boys of Auk! (drop that exclamation point, fellas) may not live up to the big names -- such as Wilco and the Smiths -- that they drop in their press kit, but hey, are they supposed to name-drop the Mighty Lemon Drops or Orange Juice? Auk!'s secret weapon is the shimmering guitar of Alex McLain, who chooses cascades of sound where other guitarists would go for a big, boring solo. Yes, Greenwheel, we're looking at you. Jon Elling's vocals never really make an impression: His voice is strong and clear, but he hasn't really found it yet. Likewise, while the lyrics never turn into clichés or other embarrassments, they also rarely impress.

Luckily for Auk!, these are traits that will come in time -- and time the band members have. Time to polish their craft and build up a fan base so that, one day, they can headline a big festival. Because in order to save the music, you need to have a band that makes music worth saving.

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