Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Living Blue - Walk Talk Rhythm Roam

Waiting a long time for a majorly delayed album to come out can be dangerous. Once a completed record sits unreleased for more than a year, as was the case with The Living Blue's new digital-only release, "Walk Talk Rhythm Roam," you might get so pumped to hear it that when it finally does come out it's more likely to disappoint. Thankfully, "WTRR" has the goods to still sound completely satisfying after a 16 month wait.

The Living Blue have never been a predictable band. In 2005, with seven years and two LPs already under their belts as "The Blackouts," they decided to change their name for their then new release, the excellent "Fire, Blood, Water." After the dust settled from that record, they opted to leave their label, Minty Fresh, without another deal lined up. Then, after recording "WTRR" in August 2007, they held out for the right deal to come along for over a year before suddenly announcing at the beginning of 2009 that they would soon release it on their own as a digital download.

This unpredictability carries to the band's music more than ever on "WTRR," making for the freshest sounding record they've released yet. If "Fire, Blood, Water" had elements of everything that makes up the best, purest sort of rock 'n' roll - fast songs, loud guitars, unbridled energy and a mind for melody and compelling lyrics - "WTRR" takes the formula to the next level. The pumped up garage vibe, guitar crunch and distinctive yelp of front man Steve Ucherek are still here (just look to "Numb" or "Without You"), but with them this time comes a wider spectrum of moods and sounds. "Refugee," for example, makes use of an eerie "Paint it Black" vibe, while "Forest Fire" introduces a playful jangle and "Roll the Breakers" offers up a wonderfully bizarre, unexpected jazzy groove.

While The Living Blue have always played up a psychedelic sound, which is out in full force on "WTRR," they somehow keep it from overwhelming the material. You don't have to be into psychedelic rock to "get" this band. For every moment on the album as heavily psyched-out as the slow-burning "Something You Do" or the moody "Depth Charge," there's a pop hook in the canon to lighten the mood. "Nightwind," for example, matches "Fire, Blood, Water's" "Tell Me Leza" in driving, melodic perfection, while the mellow "Venus Fly Trap" is about as beautiful as garage rock can get.

It would be a shame if "WTRR's" independent, digital-only release kept it from a large audience, as its spontaneity and raw energy are much needed reminders of what rock and roll is all about in a music world full of over-calculated, diluted acts that seem to have forgotten.

"Walk Talk Rhythm Roam" is available through all major digital music stores, including iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic and Napster.

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