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MUSIC REVIEW

Hard-rockin’ sets from up-and-comers

By Scott McLennan
Globe Correspondent / October 18, 2011

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Four Year Strong looks poised to take a big step forward; Gallows is on shaky ground; Title Fight is the best band you haven’t heard - yet.

These could easily be headlines from Alternative Press, the music magazine devoted to punk and indie rock. The above is also a quick summary of the AP Tour stop Sunday at the House of Blues, where Sharks and the Swellers were also on the bill.

Each spring and fall, AP curates a tour featuring bands with the potential to blossom and combines them with groups still a bit deeper underground.

Homegrown headliner Four Year Strong still summons fervent local support. But there was more than sheer loyalty fueling the band’s propulsive set. Guitarists and singers Alan Day and Dan O’Connor, bassist Joe Weiss, and drummer Jake Massucco have tightened and polished their sound since parting ways with keyboard player Josh Lyford. A melodic hardcore punk influence remains prominent in its pop arrangements, but now the band flashes more craft in places where raw energy used to get it through.

That maturity was evident in the instantly catchy “Stuck in the Middle’’ and more tangled “Fairweather Fan,’’ tracks pulled from the forthcoming “In Some Way, Shape, or Form.’’

Even older concert staples such as “Maniac’’ and “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die’’ sounded refreshed.

Gallows lost its charismatic singer Frank Carter in July and replaced him with former Alexisonfire guitarist Wade MacNeil. MacNeil certainly has the will to keep this brash UK import afloat, but he didn’t inhabit Gallows’ gutter poetry the way Carter did, and the scant new material was boilerplate rant. Scabby tirades such as “Leeches’’ and “Orchestra of Wolves’’ stood as great tunes, but the band itself seemed stuck.

Title Fight turned in a brilliant half-hour set that was both raw and provocative. Some of the nuance heard on the band’s recent CD “Shed’’ was lost in the live explosion, but the emotional punch was perhaps even stronger.

Sharks and the Swellers delivered serviceable sets, the former arriving as scrappy street punk and the latter being good-natured pop-punk practitioners.

Scott McLennan can be reached at smclennan1010@gmail.com.