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This review is from: La Musica Negra (Audio CD)
The self-proclaimed Alabama Boys Choir are back, nearly four years after their last release, with La Musica Negra. This is easily the band's most highly anticipated album yet, with both Into The Pink and Souls For Sale falling under the category of "indie rock"; or whatever they`re calling it nowadays. And although you can't quite call La Musica Negra mainstream rock & roll, you can't rebuff the fact that this is an accomplished album. From the meticulous rock opener "Way Out West" to the serene, piano-tuned "Dirty Goodbyes", you get a sense of what SHOULD be the future of rock music. And this probably would be the ideal choice for rock music; rather than The Hives and The White Stripes and The ______ (fill in the blank)... it depends on whether or not we, the listener, are prepared to embrace Verbena. Here's an overview:
1. Way Out West - 5/5 - a great beginning to the CD. It starts with an almost creepy background hum, but jumps into the rock & roll after about 30 seconds. A very definitive song that contains some of La Musica Negra's most suspicious lyrics and best overall rhythms.
2. Killing Floor (Get Down On It) - 5/5 - could be considered a single. And it's certainly worthy of that title. The `woo-who-woo' background chants are neat; as they really add to the song's magnitude. The beat might be a little less catchy than "Way Out West", but that's neither here nor there. An all-around good track; one of the album's best.
3. I, Pistol - 4.5/5 - here's more of a laid back rocker. Still very hard though; as it's very reminiscent of Into The Pink's "John Beverly". The only reason it just misses a perfect five-out-of-five is because the more subtle approach is hit-and-miss. Still, there's more hit than miss, in the end.
4. It's Alright, It's Okay (Jesus Told Me So) - 5/5 - my personal favorite song on the album. One of the heaviest songs Verbena has ever recorded. This seems to be a new sound that wasn't anywhere to be found on their earlier CDs. The chorus is excellent and leaves you singing along even after the song is over. Quite possibly the best Verbena track to date.
5. All The Saints - 4.5/5 - another melodic rocker, and another good one at that. Seems more Alabama-influenced with a kind of twangy, faint country feel to it. It might be slightly better than "I, Pistol" courtesy of excellent lyrics and its classical sound.
6. Camellia - 5/5 - as slow as it gets for La Musica Negra (minus the closer). Because this song appears so different and out-there compared to the heavier songs, it becomes one of my favorites. There's no question you'll love it if you enjoyed either "The Song That Ended Your Career" or "Lovely Isn't Love". The `hallelujah' chants are great.
7. Me And Yr Sister - 5/5 - one of the more modern rock tracks on the CD. I really enjoy it, but it may be stuck in between a slow song like "Camellia" and a heavier song like "Way Out West". Nevertheless, it's right up there with the best of Verbena. Classic!
8. White Grrls - 5/5 - very comparable to the previous song. More stellar lyrics and a prevailing rock & roll echo make for another beautifully modern rocker. It's hard, almost impossible, to say this song is the best, but it certainly deserves mention. Suspicious lyrics once more.
9. Ether - 4/5 - may be the album's lone weak point. And the four-out-of-five rank still parades the fact that it's enjoyable. Sadly, it just doesn't compare to "All The Saints", "Me And Yr Sister", or even "White Grrls". You won't want to skip over it, but you won't exactly skip to it.
10. Devil In Miss Jones - 5/5 - another choice for the best song here. I heard this one live when I saw Verbena live back in December '02; which might play a small part in my liking of it. It's like a slower version of "Bang Bang". The line `ain't nothin' to it / the devil made you do it too' is both cool and clever.
11. Rememberer - 4.5/5 - this might be the only song that could've come from Into The Pink. It has a very fizzled beginning and pretty much carries out that feel for the entire track. Its unkempt sound might be the only reason it misses a perfect ranking.
12. Dirty Goodbyes - 5/5 - arguably the best closer track Verbena's done (compared to "Big Skies, Black Rainbows" and "Kiss Yourself"). The piano is awesome, something that works as well here as it did for Into The Pink's "Lovely Isn't Love". Whatever the case may be, it's a great finish for La Musica Negra.
La Musica Negra, which means `the black music' in Spanish (go figure), stands as one of the best all-around rock albums I own. Verbena obviously has great potential to become one of the big names in rock & roll music. They are a very diverse group; and it shows on rock gems that compare to their counterparts/friends Local H (i.e. "Way Out West", "It's Alright, It's Okay"), as well as on the heartfelt, melodically brilliant tunes like "Camellia" and "Dirty Goodbyes". If you have either of Verbena's previous albums, you will not be let down with this one. It will go without saying one or two songs into this album that it is here to stay. So if you loved the sounds of Souls For Sale and especially Into The Pink, or are just looking to get into the rock music scene the right way, Verbena's La Musica Negra is the perfect album. Don't miss this.