On Whoa!Tiger's new album, Rollout, the four-piece rock band from Indianapolis succeeds when they embrace their inner '70s rock band tendencies, and write lyrics more cinematic than universal. The record wins with flashes of detailed lyrics and gutsy rock and roll, and slips only when jam band tendencies weigh down the later half of the record.
The opener, "The Rollout," blends Memphis soul with The Allman Brothers or early Seger.
The best cuts include " I Can Live With It," with Shelby Jones on guest vocals, lending a soulful female sexiness to the recording. "Touch of Bad" incorporates ZZ Top Texas blues with country talk-singing. "Moment of Silence" fades in like Boston's "More Than a Feeling," and the song hits the an album-wide theme of overcoming doubts with resiliency. And I'm a sucker for any song that talks of "Grandma singing a favorite hymn" and "seeing rainbows in the bubbles the kids blow." This is one of the best songs on the album.
Grateful Dead guitar lines are interspersed throughout the record, with welcome touches of piano and crunchy guitars. Rollout is crisply recorded, cut mostly at with Ryan Adkins at Azmyth Studios in Indianapolis. Adkins has shown an ability to make no-frills rock records with local bands for years, and this release has his engineering touch of distinct instrument separation and a loose but produced feel. Jack Barkley and Jon Knight's guitars blend smartly, turned up in the mix.
Other good stuff includes "The Window," a piano rock tune; it's a melancholy piece of Marc Cohn-sounding blues, with fitful stops and starts.
The back end of the record isn't as strong, with "What Do You Say" falling flat as a poor man's Duke Tumatoe rehash. "Kick Me Down" is rescued by a nifty guitar solo and lyrics that paint pictures in your head of girls in pony tails and borrowed cigarettes. "Pawn on the Run" is jazz rock with smoky guitar solos.
"Long Road to Reason", however, brings back the piano and anthemic Elton John chords. It's nicely done by the band..
The album will prove itself a winner with Why Store/pre-Hi Infidelity REO/early Journey/Grateful Dead audience. Rollout has a distinctly old soul, embracing a '70s sound updated with more modern influences.
Whoa!Tiger feels like a band that could take a dark club and a beer-lubricated live crowd someplace higher. The album harnesses the potential of that live vibe and provides a set of songs to take on stage and turn up.