Here's a CD that's about as unique as it gets. North Carolina's MarsupiaL prove to be impossible to classify on their latest release Genus Thylacinus, a fascinating collection of songs that contain elements of prog, Southern Rock, jam band improvisation, rock, and jazz. The four piece certainly can play their instruments, in fact, Ian Reardon (guitars/vocals), Forrest Smith (guitars/pedal steel), Brad Mehder (bass), and Chris Carter (drums/vocals/guitars) show plenty of virtuoso moments throughout Genus Thylacinus, but most importantly these eight songs are all catchy and memorable, sure to get you humming and tapping your toes as well as stimulating your need for driving, instrumentally challenging music.
Opening cut "Lead On" is a near 9-minute tour de force of jam-band excitement and pop hooks, catchy melodies and soaring guitar harmonies flying all over the mix, and it's followed up by the tasty Allman Brothers Band meets Lynyrd Skynyrd slab o' Southern Rock that is "The Man Who Knows Things", complete with some stunning slide guitar work. "Naked In the Hall of Seduction" is a bizarre but enjoyable two headed monster, kicking off as a rootsy rock song but then morphing into a spacey prog rock number with spooky electronic effects, jazzy guitar passages, and tricky drum fills. On "In Between", the band goes for a Grateful Dead/Phish vibe, and dive into a sort of trippy, psychedelic Southern Rock state of mind on "The Tide", somewhere between the Allmans, Marshall Tucker Band, and the Buffalo Springfield. Check out the killer finale on this one, as after four minutes of laid back strumming the band crashes the mix with thunderous guitar riffs, stinging lead solos, and pounding drum beats. The rootsy, Southern drawl of "The Goodbye Waltz" delivers the CDs one true ballad, and it's a good one, complete with passionate vocals, and a nice mix of acoustic and electric guitars. MarsupiaL do their best to create some noisy garage rock with "Sucker Punch" (Neil Young's Live Rust anyone?), a real raucous number featuring some behemoth, distorted guitar riffs that border on the stoner/doom metal scene, and the album ends with the lush acoustic piece "There Is a Better World".
Again, ultimately this one's real hard to classify, but the end result is just a satisfying rock album from a bunch of Southern dudes that manages to push many buttons and works on every level. This is a band to watch out for.
1 Lead On
2 The Man Who Knows Things
3 Naked in the Hall of Seduction
4 In Between
5 The Tide6 The Goodbye Waltz
7 Sucker Punch
8 There Is a Better World