Hondo IIAlbum: Goodbye, Paraguay! EPLabel: Hot Stack RecordsRelease Date: Out NowLongstanding West Seattle “cow-punk boogie” band Memphis Radio Kings is now Hondo II (so named after a type of guitar manufactured by Hondo, a Texas guitar company), a compact two-piece version comprising singer/guitarist Charlie Beck and drummer Tony Leamer. The new name is doubly fitting–not only have MRK stripped down to a duo, Hondo II was generally perceived as the better, second-generation guitar type to come out of the company. Where MRK was earnestly in pursuit of a defining sound, Hondo II takes a more stripped-down approach with producer Graig Markel (Band of Horses, Nada Surf, Brent Amaker and the Rodeo) at the helm of their new five-song EP Goodbye, Paraguay!. The production is clean and balanced, retaining a bit of what always worked for MRK–up-tempo, effects-ridden, pop-rock anthems–yet forgoing the extraneous noodling and flip-flopping song structures that plagued recent releases like Another Punch From a So-Called Friend. Full of resonant guitar, some light-handed synth, and well-appointed harmonies accented with just a touch of distortion, Goodbye, Paraguay! extols the virtue less is more. MRK is half the band it used to be and all the better for it. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.