Behind the superstar country gloss of Nashville, there's a lesser-known indie pop scene that's given birth to acts like Hot Chelle Rae and Kings of Leon. Sugar + the Hi-Lows just might be the next breakout band to capture the nation's imagination. They have a lot going on. Guitarist/singer Trent Dabbs looks like Kiefer Sutherland, and singer Amy Stroup blends the best features of Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow. Simply put, they look like pop stars and they have the singing and songwriting talent to back up their image. They've already had tunes placed on shows like Grey's Anatomy and Parenthood, and on their debut they dig deep into the sounds they grew up on to craft eight strong entries that reference the classic sounds of Southern AM radio in the '50s and '60s. The opener, "Show and Tell," has a sultry Memphis groove with a hint of Philly soul in the strings. Dabbs and Stroup deliver warm, seductive harmonies perfectly suited to the song's inviting lyric. The sound of Sun Studios is stamped on "Two Day High," a rockabilly romp that contrasts Stroup's laid-back vocal with Dabbs' primal guitar. "Stubborn Lover" mixes traces of girl group R&B and Motown to good effect, while "This Can't Be the Last Time" slides in with a greasy Southern funk backbeat. The stylistic range is impressive, but the arrangements are never forced or overly clever. Sugar + the Hi-Lows may be retro, but they've got enough flair to make the music sound hip and modern.
AllMusic Review by j. poet