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“Nate Laban & Sam Hill” by Nate Laban & Sam Hill, natelaban.bandcamp.com: On the cover of Nate Laban & Sam Hill’s self-titled debut, a small, bespectacled man with a guitar fends off a huge, menacing devil. The artwork (by local illustrator Matt Talbot) doubles as a mission statement for the album itself—Laban and the band standing together, fending off all the demons, both minor and major, that life throws at them. “Nate Laban & Sam Hill” is, at its heart, a fun album, but buried underneath the rousing choruses and blazing guitar work is some serious grit. It’s also an album about small-town life, with songs that double as character sketches (“Hometown Shame”) and short stories of attempted redemption. “Autumn on a Beach” is a great, bitter break-up song set on a boarded-up beach boardwalk, while “Garbage Town” is a folk-punk love letter to a rundown city. Many of the songs, like “Shoot for Victory” and “Pills,” use driving drums and guitar to bring to life the conflicts that happen when a person tries to make positive changes in their lives. But Laban never gets too serious—“Fat Camp” and “Insufficient Funds Since 1975” are just awesome punk anthems, loud, brash, and punchy. “Nate Laban & Sam Hill” proves there are few problems so serious that a good song can’t help solve.