Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Their Name Is Earl Greyhound

By: David Schultz

Imagine a parallel dimension in which the laws of gender, science and individuality to which we've grown accustomed fail to retain their hold on the human species. Now further imagine that on some drunken evening in this world, Lenny Kravitz knocked up an innocent and unsuspecting Wolfmother: the resulting love child would be Earl Greyhound with bassist Kamara Thomas being the beneficiary of Andrew Stockdale's wild hair gene. While Earl Greyhound would surely be princes of rock in this realm, in ours, they are simply one of the most buzzed about bands to have recently emerged from Brooklyn. This past Thursday, Earl Greyhound marked their triumphant homecoming to the five boroughs with a sold-out show at the Lower East Side's Bowery Ballroom.

The multi-racial band is intriguing both aurally and visually. Guitarist Matt Whyte has the classic long-haired, lanky good looks and cocky swagger of a hard rock frontman. He's complemented by the eminently noticeable Thomas, who has cultivated a Seventies-style bad-ass image complete with Angela Davis' old school afro. While Whyte and Thomas prowl the front of the stage, (Big) Ricc Sheridan, with arms the size of Aaron Neville, bashes away mercilessly at his drum kit. The band's harshest critics lambaste Earl Greyhound as a band favoring style over substance. Dashikis and hairstyles notwithstanding, there is much more to Earl Greyhound then colorful photo-ops.

On Soft Targets, their impressive though uneven full length debut, Earl Greyhound moves through garage-style psychedelia, furious bass and drums driven rock and Seventies-era, riff-centric Rush-derived guitar anthems. At the Bowery, the Hound blurred the lines between genres, generating a straightforward, in-your-face maelstrom that's been missing in the wake of grunge rock's slow fade after Kurt Cobain's suicide. Amidst the aural assault, some melodic Brit-Pop reveals itself: the refrain of "All Better Now" a lineal descendant of "I Want To Hold Your Hand."

After kicking off their set with a relatively restrained ballad featuring Whyte playing keyboards off to the side of the stage, the mood changed significantly. While Whyte strapped on his guitar, Sheridan launched into the thunderous drum beat of "Yeah I Love You," and with Thomas belting out the vocals, the threesome picked up a relentless pace that would not abate for the rest of their seventy-five minute set. Thomas provides something you aren't going to see with your everyday ordinary band. She not only plays a seriously heavy bass, she does it with panache, sticking her tongue out a la Michael Jordan when she finds the right groove. When she wasn't helping Sheridan create a rumbling soundscape that had their opening acts' shelved cymbals and drums vibrating in tune along the left side of the floor, Thomas kept rearing back for emphasis, matching the drummer's muscle and prodding Whyte along with a powerful élan.

On occasion, David Letterman will present something unique or curious on The Late Show and then turn to Paul Shaffer and ask "Is This Something?" If the venerable talk show host and his Canadian sidekick were at the Bowery Ballroom to contemplate Whyte, Thomas and Sheridan, the answer would be simple: Earl Greyhound is definitely something.

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!