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Dark Clouds

World In Sound (2014)
Rating: 7/10

Now here’s a Minneapolis quartet that should appeal to those of you who like heavy rock tinged with blues, psychedelia, soul and funk.

Formed in 2011, The Lone Crows are comprised of vocalist / guitarist Tim Barbeau, fellow axeman Julian Manzara, bassist Andy Battcher and drummer Joe Goff. The music they make is soulful, groove-based, sun-bleached and swaggering and comes via their sophomore composition Dark Clouds, which doesn’t really seem a fitting title for some of the smokin’ hot and funky blues-based tunes contained herein.

These guys have clearly done their homework because of the nine tracks on offer there isn’t one which fails to impress, and the band are so flexible with their styles that they may well have found a niche by marrying so many influences. The likes of ‘Next Thing I Know’ are sultry as it meanders without effort through funk and blues, but at the other end of the spectrum there is the stoner groove of ‘The Dragon’ with its bluesy doom edginess. Tim Barbeau has a simple vocal croon; it’s nothing fancy at all as he spins evocative tales amidst a barrage of fuzzed guitar, stirring percussion and fluid bass-lines.

All the tracks are easy on the ears, whether in the form of the loungin’ trickle of ‘Anger’, which has a reggae-styled back groove to it, to the more traditional summery sways of the 70s rock-influenced ‘Out Of Time’, with its tidy drum patter and cool, whipped riff. Somehow, none of it sounds original, but then again, the mix of styles allows the band to possibly create something that hints at the new.

I have to say that I would have preferred a touch more bite in the vocal department. However, the almost lazy manner of Barbeau’s tone complements the music perfectly, but never does he dominate proceedings. This in turn suggests that The Lone Crows may not have the appetite or style for arenas, but there’s no denying the sassy jerk of the title track with its hazy weave and there’s a stoned positivity throughout – from the grunge-tinged blues of ‘Lonesome Road’ to the cool, dusky ‘On That Day’, which is probably best experienced in a smoky lounge or under a burning sun on a dusty road.

Okay, so Dark Clouds rarely kicks hard, but as a sunshine supernova mixing traditional blues-tinged rock and psychedelic funk this follow-up to the band’s 2013 self-titled debut album should win The Lone Crows plenty of new admirers as the band aim to bring classic rock back to the masses.

Neil Arnold

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