Leagues’ new “You Belong Here” is good for the music industry of Nashville. The Music City-based band experiments with several genres for its retro-hip sound, yet none of them are country or Americana, demonstrating the Tennessee capital’s across-the-board appeal for all musicians.
“You Belong Here” is even better for listeners as the band concocts imaginative tracks by drawing on its decidedly diverse talent yet possibly indecisive direction.
However, Leagues doesn’t frustrate with its fluctuations the way many genre-hopping acts do; instead, the group takes its audience along as it explores ways to fuse influences, ultimately projecting something akin to a classic-rock-rooted, alt-friendly band of renaissance men.
Opener “Spotlight” sets the tone as the band offers infectious lo-fi enthusiasm — “I’m never gonna give you up!”, sings vocalist Thad Cockrell — in a framework of resonating surf-rock-meets-doo-wop, seemingly recorded in a vast dancehall
Elsewhere, the threesome (Cockrell plus guitarist Tyler Burkam and drummer Jeremy Lutito) could be a side project of an indie-pop Montreal collective on the fidgety-sweet title track, members of a U2 tribute band trying out original material on the tender “Lost It All,” a reincarnated Southern-rock band cranking up in the glow of “Magic,” or a carefree New Wave throwback on the clomping “Mind Games” built on the mantra, “Every falling out brings us back to love.”
There are even more complicated constructions, notably “One Hand,” which rides a booming beat and spins through a charming, albeit improbable, chorus of harmonic la-la-la’s, and the disarmingly dreamy “Pass My Way,” which finds the vulnerable-voiced Cockrell musing, “What would I do if you ever pass my way?” Subsequent to that gentle track is the even-softer closer “Friendly Fire,” which puts piano-punctuated poignancy at the forefront: “Sometimes I get afraid, love/It’s you that I’d be missin’/But fear only talks to those who listen.”
So don’t listen to fear. Listen to Leagues.
Rating: 4 stars (out of five)
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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