King Johnson

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Like the North Mississippi All-Stars, King Johnson is a new variety of Southern rock, fusing the traditionally blues-driven music with a coterie of jazzier influences -- notably New Orleans brass band. The band's seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of allows them a refreshing flexibility -- such as the sudden turn into brassy swing near the end of "Mile After Mile". When the group attempts less groove-driven, more pop-oriented material, such as The Band-like "Time Stands Still", they move into potentially more creative territory, though are still a step or two from achieving total originality. "Time Stands Still" features a sweetly alluring clarinet-driven arrangement, for example, but doesn't quite earn its keep otherwise. In general, their rhythms are neat and danceable -- which is to their credit as musicians, but makes the music a little less curious than it might be. Songs like the drumless "One More Day" present a band ready to create something new.

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