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CD review: Watch Husky Burn's Garnet

Independent; Release date: Nov. 16, 2013



If Explosions in the Sky can help set a dramatic tone during love stories and dramas, Charlotte instrumental trio Watch Husky Burn offers the perfect soundtrack for car or on-foot chases and perhaps a jet flying between mountains and under bridges.

Comprised of guitarist Phil Strickland, drummer Nate Wilkinson and bassist Mark Hadden, the group formerly known as Husky offers seven tracks, clocking in at just over 40 minutes, of what they call "good driving music" on its third album. Garnet is less fuzzy than the band's 2006 debut, Circle the Wagons, and more grounded than its 2008 follow-up, The Sea King.

Where past songs were stretched out and allowed to find their borders, the tunes on Garnet rely on stronger composition and arrangements. "The Right to Question a Genius" opens the album with a slow-building song that's sprinkled with acoustic strums. If it's driving music, then this is the one to get you out of your neighborhood and onto the interstate. The song gains momentum over the course of seven-and-a-half minutes, as it works its way toward an electric crescendo to help all those highway miles pass by.

"Song for Jerry" gets frantic enough to tell a story without losing control or slipping off the rails. Instrumental music can be hard to keep focused on, but this track exemplifies what Watch Husky Burn does so well — carrying the listener along for the ride without letting them get distracted. Its energetic build-up from a single-note intro into a diffused, thunderous conclusion sums up the band's sound in just more than six minutes.

If "Icewater Mansions" borrows from the Explosions in the Sky playbook at times, it destroys any copycat notions with a sledgehammer via brief stints of distorted chords and hammered drums. "In a Vacuum" hints at jazz influences, while "Wheels" sounds like a modernized version of Pink Floyd's "One of These Days."

Garnet is a great indicator of how far this trio has come in its 12 years, while showing a simple name change didn't affect the band's musical focus.

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