Album Review: Earl Greyhound – Suspicious Package

by Gordon Elgart on February 5, 2010

Earl Greyhound’s previous album, Soft Targets, blasted out of the box with “S.O.S.,” a dynamic mission statement that attempted to explain, in five minutes, what Earl Greyhound was all about. While the album didn’t live up to the high standards set by this blistering track, descending into middling bluesy rock numbers by the end, the promise of that one song alone has kept me interested in the band, and earned them all sorts of lauds as the “next big thing.” Now, the band’s new album, Suspicious Package, has arrived, and it also starts with I assumed to be a clear mission statement. What’s the mission this time?

This statement song is “The Eyes of Cassandra.” Technically in two parts, it starts with the soft sound of keys mixed with a little static and the cool quiet vocals of bassist Kamara Thomas come in. Next thing you know, there’s percussion, either samba or bossa nova (I never can tell the difference). When part two starts, a faintly psychedelic bass line kicks in, and finally the vocals start. The vocals sound like Heart covering Led Zeppelin III (very cool) and eventually the song begins to swell and swell, the lyrics turn into pained cries, the guitars start shaking, and the statement is made that this is going to be a different kind of album, full of keyboard flourishes, interesting harmonies, and slow builders. Again, I’m excited for what’s to come.

“Oye Vaya” doesn’t follow up on this promise, and instead sounds like the best Black Crowes track you’ve never heard. It totally rocks, though, so I’m not minding. So much for bands making mission statements. This track does also dabble in Latin percussion, so maybe that’s the mission?

Then when “Ghost and the Witness” follows up with nary a hint of this Latin percussion, I’m starting to get worried. The song is better than average, and has moments of coolness, but the descent into middling bluesy rock has started, and the tide isn’t stemming. There’s still a bunch of songs to go, and none of them are going to save me. “Sea of Japan” starts really well, but doesn’t jump off from the cool intro, but rather gets lost in a standard fast shuffle.

It’s a disappointing album again from Earl Greyhound. It starts with such promise, and there are brief moments, both vocally and instrumentally, within the songs that are almost worth the time it takes to listen, but you may find yourself, as I do, wishing that the talent and inventiveness was serving more interesting songs. It looks to me like Earl Greyhound has a few good songs per album, and the rest is promising filler. I fear that Earl Greyhound will continue to be the “next big thing” for a long time.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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