Verbena - La Musica Negra
4 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 23, 2003
Review by Tony BonyataThey may hail from Birmingham, but don't expect any "Sweet Home Alabama" refrains from the Southern rock trio Verbena, because instead of music for good ol' boys, their's is a sound steeped in ballsy rock, snarling attitude and alternative rock ethos.
On their third full-length album, La Musica Negra, Verbena still retains some of the heart and soul of other alt-rock dieties, such as the swaggering street bravado of Stone Temple Pilots ("It's Alright, It's Okay - Jesus Told Me So" and the greasy stomp of "Devil In Miss Jones"), as well as Nirvana in a more pensive mood ("Remember"), but by the time you've reached the album's end their own voice emerges louder and more confident than ever before.
Big guitar riffs and short stabbing leads abound throughout this fine effort. And if that's not enough, then throw in one of rock's great new voices from guitarist / vocalist Scott Bondy, along with the organic rhythms from bassist Nick Daviston and drummer Les Nuby that stampede over everything in its path only to get reigned back in when things get a little more introspective, for the perfect rock cocktail.
Even the most talented musicians' art, however, can fall on deaf ears if the magic isn't in the songs. And despite the fact that nothing here is earthshatteringly new, who cares when the compositions are this good. From the cool, funkified "I, Pistol" to the jackhammer opener "Way Out West" to the sunny ride of "White Grrls," as well as the beautiful moments shared on "Ether," these guys seemed to have tapped straight into rock's new wellspring.
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