by Carey Murphy and Ted S. McGregort Jr. & r & & r & Test Icicles & lt;a href= & quot;http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=rQy1MLe70wI & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp;RD_PARM1=http%3A%2F%2Fphobos.apple.com%2FWebObjects%2FMZStore.woa%2Fwa%2FviewAlbum%3Fp%3D118445380%26s%3D143441%26partnerId%3D30 & quot; & For Screening Purposes Only & lt;/a & THREE STARS & r & With a name that suggests being obviously-stuck-in-their-sophomoric-sense-of-humor phase, Test Icicles initially appears to be everything and nothing at once. Though their sound is definitely genre-divergent, you'll easily hear the similarities -- Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, the Kills, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and, my goodness, the Joggers -- from this up-and-coming London three-piece. At first, I felt cheated that these songs sounded so familiar. But multiple rotations through the changer offer some distinct possibilities.
Gelled by the scream-tastic vocals, the album lets the listener gravitate to the instruments that take the lead. "Pull the Lever" makes razor-wire out of guitar strings, all the while sounding prog-punk-ish. The bass-and-drum assault of "What's Your Damage" makes it too similar to "All You Need Is Blood" (you Beatles fans). But "Boa v. Python" highlights future grandeur, particularly when two-thirds of the band is only 19. The banality of tracks like "Party On Dudes" and "Your Biggest Mistake" is forgivable until they turn 20. But then, if things don't change, I'm getting mean. -- Carey Murphy
BR549 & lt;a href= & quot;http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=rQy1MLe70wI & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp;RD_PARM1=http%3A%2F%2Fphobos.apple.com%2FWebObjects%2FMZStore.woa%2Fwa%2FviewAlbum%3Fp%3D110307323%26s%3D143441%26partnerId%3D30 & quot; & Dog Days & lt;/a & FOUR STARS & r & If you ever wandered around Lower Broadway in Nashville in the mid-1990s, you probably saw a crowd overflowing out of Robert's Western World, with a drummer's back to the window, pounding away. That band was BR549, and from that humble perch, they set about reviving the kind of foot-stomping, old-timey music that Nashville was built on. Now more and more country stars are rediscovering those roots, but it sure took a while.
So it's fitting that BR549 has released its strongest record yet, produced by John Keane (R.E.M., Uncle Tupelo). If you've loved BR549's hilariously goofy songs, you'll get some of that here -- "A-1 on the Jukebox," "Bottom of Priority" -- but overall this is a much more grown-up record. After some lineup changes, the band has never sounded better. "The Devil and Me" features the Jordanaires on vocals, and it's two minutes and 41 seconds of perfection.
Band leader Chuck Mead is uncanny in his knack for channeling old-school Western swing legends like Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. -- Ted S. McGregor Jr.