Never Bet the Devil Your Head

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You can forgive Subrosa if their debut was a less-than-stellar effort. In addition to the usual pressures of being a new band on a major label, they had some tragic history as well. Guitarist/singer Travis Tooke and drummer Jack Griego were half of For Squirrels, the Florida band that lost its singer, bassist, and road manager in a horrible van accident while touring to promote their debut release, Example. The duo soldiered on, recruiting bassist Andy Jim Lord and touring incessantly behind their modest modern rock radio hit, "Mighty K.C.," but apparently decided a name change would help get them out from under their former band's dark shadow. Far removed from the For Squirrels sound, Never Bet the Devil Your Head is hit-and-miss, with Nirvana-wannabe singles offset by striking songs like "Antigen Fiend," which features clever wordplay, dazzling eruptions of guitar noise, and Tooke screaming as if his soul depends on it. You can almost hear the band trying to shrug off the shackles of its past, not to mention its past influences (R.E.M., Nirvana, etc.), and the moments in which it achieves that goal can be positively breathtaking.

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