The Deal: Charlotte groove rock quartet – Justin Babcock (drums), Greg Dalton (guitar), Alex Giles (keys) and Jeff Lewis (bass) – gets ready to independently release debut album, Black Maria.
The Good: There's an interesting balance in the tunes – distorted guitars with some keyboard riffs dropped in behind it highlight the opening track, "Watch It Burn," for some kind of amalgam between Alice in Chains-style metal and Iron Butterfly-era psychedelia. "People" and "Fog" open with some Anastasio-style riffing leading into a jazz groove. The songs mostly run longer than five minutes, so you better dig in before listening – three clock in around 10 minutes.
The Bad: While the vocals aren't the strongest, they serve more of a purpose to lead the song from groove to riff or from jam to the next groove. They offer a sense of balance between the variety of styles. "The Example" had '70s style to it and the falsetto threw me off a bit, but I still give them credit for mixing up their sound while keeping the disc's sound cohesive as a whole.
The Verdict: The 12 tracks clock in at more than an hour and 10 minutes ... So if you like what you hear, you'll get plenty of it. The band's music has the diversity to catch the attention of jam fans as well as those who appreciate a harder edge. Catch the CD release show on April 16 at the Double Door Inn.