II Big

Sound of the Highway

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It's always a kick when '70s rockers, shuttled more than two decades into the future, record albums that keep the old sound intact as if the world has not changed one bit. Hence, there's a playful innocence in the music of this band, which is fronted by Eddy Ottenstein, best known as vocalist/guitarist with Jesse Colin Young/The Youngbloods and Van Morrison. A solid, hooky songwriter, he leads his five-piece outfit on fun songs that alternately invoke the spirits of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Eagles. And the guitar riff at the beginning of "That Kind of Neighborhood" echoes an intro to a well-known song by the Cars. The spunky blues-rock of "Sound of the Highway" actually sounds like later John Fogerty, while "Motor City Blues" echoes the cool, Southern California of the '70s sound. There's a lot of grit and edge to Ottenstein's guitar work, especially on high-stepping road songs like "Hammer Down." For the most part, these are energetic club rockers, but "Always in Trouble" opens with a blues/folk element. All of these '70s comparisons are not criticisms as much as a way to explain the old-school charm these guys bring to their music. It won't make you forget the artists they sound like, but the tight songs make it worth a spin.

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