THE DEAL: English blues-rock band The 22-20s releases second studio album, first since reformation in 2008.
THE GOOD: The band draws the listener in with the first notes of "Heart on a String," a blues-rock song with driving drum beat and smooth rock vocals in the tone of, I hate to say it, Bono. Notice I said tone, not style. U2 doesn't have this kind of stripped-down appeal or the hints of rockabilly apparent in the band's music. The band's style is closer to that of The Beatles and other early English rock bands. "Bitter Pills" comes across as a Sgt. Pepper's outtake at first, only to get roughed up halfway through. "Talk to Me" has the rhythm of White Rabbits' "Percussion Gun" with a deeply infused '60s rock flavor a la The Byrds, whose influence can also be heard in the harmonies of "Ocean."
THE BAD: That the band isn't playing Charlotte on its current tour — though they do have a day off on Sept. 2 between Nashville in D.C. as a not-so-subtle hint to local booking agents. The band recently toured with The Whigs and Band of Skulls.
THE VERDICT: It's been awhile since I was unexpectedly hit by something I just had to stop and pay attention to. I immediately cast all doubt aside and gave it a serious listen and am sure there are plenty of more spins coming in the future. It's solid blues rock in the vein of their former touring partners with good songwriting and catchy instrumentation.