Posts Tagged 'Alligator Blackbird'

South Bend’s got talent: Alligator Blackbird

On their impressive self titled debut, Alligator Blackbird lay down a sound all their own. They have a mellow but catchy acoustic based style that deftly draws from reggae, pop, and folk. Their stripped down approach serves their music well and allows the individual elements to stand out well in the mix. Fabian Guzman has a well-developed vocal and guitar style and is really beginning to come into his own as a singer. The bass playing of Chris Keck is extremely tasteful and anchors the songs with impressive musicality. Cory Miller provides the percussion with a subdued and inflective style that propels the tunes nicely. There is a catchy energy to the rhythm though it is a restrained one. The overall group chemistry is impressive and very musical. This is a very pop sounding album, though Alligator Blackbird falls firmly into the more rootsy end of the pop spectrum. The highly crafted tunefulness here brings to mind artists like G Love and Special Sauce, Jason Mraz, Ben Harper, and Jack Johnson. All pop artists that have maintained a degree of individual identity despite the cookie cutter SoundScan based “artist development” the majors have foisted on us the last 20 years.

So what’s not to like about this CD? Well this is not the most challenging, interesting, or innovative music, but this fact bodes well for the bands career potential and perhaps the average listener’s ears. Also there are some overly forced and clichéd sounding Kravitz derived vocalisms. Then there are the autobiographical accounts of youthful awkwardness those listeners past the age of 25 will likely find non-relatable. The lyrics at times reveal a young and inexperienced perspective, one that will likely mature over time. Honestly, how many weed references does one need to cram into a CD before it gets stale? This band seems determined to find out. At the same time there are many times where the lyrics really shine past the bands age and paint a bright future indeed.

It is great to hear art like this coming out of South Bend, especially from a band making their debut. This CD is the most ear-friendly and polished CD I have reviewed in a while. I could easily see their music ending up on the radio at some point. As catchy as this CD is though, it leaves the impression that some more time and life experience for this band could produce an even better one. The bottom line though is that a group that can combine such catchy song writing with equally impressive musical chemistry is a rare and beautiful bird indeed.