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An unexpected blast of horns ignites the sophomore mission of Athens' Little Red Rocket. As the brassy countdown nears zero, a second stage of voices propel "I Believe in What You Do," adding a delicate counterpoint to the swinging launch-pad of slide trombone and trumpet. The band, on traditional rock guitar, bass and drums, joins the crew of heavenly voices for a successful lift off.

Vocalists, guitarists and songwriters Orenda and Maria Rocket, along with bassist Jackie Rocket (as related to each other as the Ramones were) mix '60s girl-group chirp and '80s pop. "California" crackles with the punky energy of Veruca Salt. Fueled by drummer Scott Rocket, the band reach high-altitudes of pure pop flight that would've made Wernher von Braun proud and define the Rocket's science of breezy fun.

With "Wandering Eye," the Rocketeers soar on solid melodies and atmospheric guitars, sounding like the Southern siblings of Luscious Jackson.. "Star" is a heavenly body of celestial "ahhhs" and Bangles-esque vocals in one streamlined arc. "Italian Song" defies gravity through a time-warp of modern keyboards and retro soundtrack injections.

It's in the Sound's turbulent title track mixes sugary 4AD-like veiled aggression with the thrust of a rollicking piano, creating a breathy and bumpy re-entry. In the same orbit as Game Theory or Let's Active, yet appealingly current; this Rocket's red glare is hot.

Little Red Rocket open for the Jennifer Nettles Band April 21 at Variety Playhouse.

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