Concrete Class CD - The Control Group

When is a classic rock band not a classic rock band? When the outfit is Washington State's The Lonely H, a barely out of high school quartet from remote Port Angeles, a town about as far from an ideal musical haven as it is possible to be. On their third outing, Concrete Class, singer Mark Fredson, drummer Ben Eyestone and the Whitman brothers (Eric on guitar and Johnny on bass), fashion long-hair and patched-jeans rock which echoes but does not implicitly imitate artists from Grand Funk to The Eagles, from early Seger to The Allman Brothers. On paper, The Lonely H sounds like a cover bar band but in reality they perform music infused with nostalgia without irony. The members are too young to have been around for the real thing, and seemingly are not calculated enough to consciously mock their parents' vinyl albums. Some songs hover close to cliche, such as rambunctious "Going Out West," which mixes Aerosmith's swagger with a Bad Company braggadocio, or heartland rocker "Diggin' a Hole," which features Faces-esque grubby guitar and soulful sax. Country rock nugget "Singer" deftly achieves a balance between a Glen Frey and Don Henley rip off and being a new vagabond tale for the twitter generation. There are a few weak lyrics, such as rhyming Louisiana with piana and quoting from Scott McKenzie's humdrum hippie hit, "San Francisco," during otherwise appreciable piano ballad, "Take Care." The most effective moments come when the foursome hit the ground running, such as during the anthemic "Cold Blues" or blues-rocker "The Other Side of the Water," which manages to gain that elusive Southern rock apogee The Black Crowes tried so hard to attain and too often missed. While The Lonely H may never approach the depth or ambition of Drive-By Truckers, they are showing more attention to detail and ingenuousness than Kings of Leon have ever shown.

By Doug Simpson



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