Earl Greyhound, 'Suspicious Package' (Hawk Race Records)

8
Suspicious Package
Critical Mass
Label: Race Hawk Records

by SPIN Staff

While one can feel saturated by classic rock on an almost hourly basis -- be it strategic Who or Bon Jovi television placements, Led Zep lunch hours, or a swath of Sirius channels -- it's rare when the hard stuff is actually constructed on the ground. And in a Brooklyn scene that embraces decidedly nonrock adventurers like Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors, the power trio Earl Greyhound feel all the more anomalous and refreshingly weighty.

The group looks like a throwback to a bygone era: Matt Whyte could double as a Thin Lizzy sideman, bassist-keyboardist Kamara Thomas sports an afro that would make Erykah Badu blush, while bouncer-built Ricc Sheridan bruises his kit with aplomb. On their second full-length, Earl Greyhound elide the Beatlesque harmonies that underpinned their debut, Soft Target, to deploy '70s rock of all calibers: an ELO synth wash opens the perfectly bombastic "Holy Immortality" and Whyte's Santana-like shredding drives the monstrous "Oye Vaya."

Elsewhere, the poppy stomp of "Ghost and the Witness" could stand alongside Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf. But in a decided contrast to bands who merely flash encyclopedic chops, Earl Greyhound throw in jazz chords (see slow-building ballad "Bill Evans"). And while the lyrics are often forgettable, the intertwined vocals of Thomas and Whyte (be they howled or honeyed) sound like nothing you've heard during Twofer Tuesday.

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