A New Community CD - Sickroom

New Orleans is better known for jazz, rhythm and blues, and Cajun rock, but it is obvious by listening to The Blackbelt Band's debut, A New Community, that this trio involves outsiders who are far from the Crescent City norm. The threesome creates an unconventional stew of neo-prog rock, post-punk, atmospheric indie pop, ambient electronic elements, dub/reggae instances, and many cases of unusual musical convergence. The group's core consists of Travis Thompson on bass and vocals, Kevin Comarda on a Fender bass and vocals, and drummer Ryan Iriarte, although the 10 tracks here are supplemented by friends who add keyboards, horns, and additional vocals. While The Blackbelt Band is still searching for that elusive signature sound, the musicians do not imitate anyone in particular. "Not Watching" moves from a slow percolation suffused with reverb piano to a fuzz-drenched slash, while dueling vocals repeat a chorus about godly indifference. Emo-laced "The Mimic" starts out ethereal, with reverb guitar, synth, and percussive effects, gradually building to a bass-laden premonition echoed by the menacing mantra, "You can't see me!" Meanwhile, "Places" sequences ambiguous lyrics, crisp guitar, reggae-tilted beats, and neo-prog rock breakouts. The eclectic mixture of styles on A New Community gives the album an intricate background, but these myriad characteristics also betray a seemingly impromptu organization that does not yet gel. (Doug Simpson)



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