We're wrapping up our 2011 preview, checking in with a few more of our favorite local acts and artists.

Prominent hip-hop artists are gettting active, namely expert lyricists JON HOPE and THEO MARTINS. MC/DJ/fashion maven Martins just returned from an "amazing, truly life-altering" trip to Zambia (read all about his journey at And the week before his December departure, he opened for Lloyd Banks in Times Square. Martins reports he will drop his next album, Sincerely, the Dance Floor, later this month. We're still spinning cuts from his '09 debut The Birth, and look up his 2010 releases Channel Surfin' (with Asher Roth's DJ, Wreckineyez) and You Can't Do That on Television. Hope, meanwhile, has been busy in the booth "building the catalogue," as he stated via email. Hope has his sights set on a first-quarter release for new single "The Bottle," with spot dates across the country to follow.

"2011 will be about new decisions and new results," Hope told me. He expounded on his blog ( a few days later: "I'm leaving a secure state job with benefits and a pension for low record sales, janky promoters and bad road food. And I am totally content." Dude is going for it full-time, and his wordplay deserves nothing less. Catch Hope and Martins in action at the Met on January 27.

Bobby Forand of THE MCGUNKS (the Providence "Kings of Drunk-Punk") informed us of an upcoming (as yet untitled) live album recently recorded at Arlene's Grocery in NYC, as well as a new EP to follow in March, with production from Phil Greene (Dropkick Murphys, Mighty Mighty Bosstones). Shows in Boston, NYC, and CT are lined up, and Forand said the band is ready to "log as many miles on the van as possible." The McGunks hit the 201 (with Girl Haggard) on January 15 and will play Firehouse 13 and Cumberland's Broad Street Tap at the end of the month; visit for streaming cuts and updates.

Elusive thrash-rock outfit LIFERS ( will return with another EP, Want for Nothing; guitarist Anthony Ferreira slid us the new six-song demo, and the beastly new tracks "Pet Name" and "In Votro Casino" will satiate those jonesing for a Swans/Black Flag/Jesus Lizard fix. "We recorded the new record in one day, on some Deadhead's property out in the woods of Lunenburg, Massachusetts," Ferreira said over drinks last week. "Production is darker and more fucked up than the last record [Early Trauma], either fast as fuck or slowed down to a grinding halt. And we'll keep playing shows like we're in the witness protection program," Ferreira cracked. "You know, like not being listed on fliers, and playing abandoned warehouses with rats and bats and no identifiable signage."

AN EXCITING TIME Hilary, Rebecca, and Meredith of Whore Paint.

We dialed up a busy Hilary Jones, bassist with ARCING and WHORE PAINT, as well as an integral member of the Girls Rock! camp staff. When I wasn't gushing about her two albums with Sweetthieves, she managed to inform me about the goings-on with the projects (check the updated Facebook pages for both bands).

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