Album: Hazy Malaze

Blackout Love, FARGO
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The Independent Culture

On his solo albums, Neal Casal deals in an alt.country pop sound with prominent roots in the Seventies singer-songwriter tradition; so it's no surprise that his band Hazy Malaze should also draw on that era for inspiration, albeit from rather grittier sources. Hazy Malaze is Casal's "soul power trio", an opportunity for him to revel in strutting funk-rock riffs some distance removed from his more sensitive solo outings. Tracks such as "Bust It Down" and "Thank You in Advance" have the itchy, skeletal quality of The Meters, New Orleans' answer to Booker T & The MGs, with Jeff Hill's sinuous, elegant basslines stalking around the guitar chords, and Dan Fadel's drum patterns pared to the most basic and propulsive of backbeats. Other tracks exhibit the louche swagger of the Stones ("Rock'n'Roll Gone" and "Damage Talking"), the spindly white-funk edginess of Talking Heads ("Everything"), the lurching neo-boogie chug of Kings of Leon ("Dirty Summer") and even, on "Need Somebody", a crisp white-reggae sn

On his solo albums, Neal Casal deals in an alt.country pop sound with prominent roots in the Seventies singer-songwriter tradition; so it's no surprise that his band Hazy Malaze should also draw on that era for inspiration, albeit from rather grittier sources. Hazy Malaze is Casal's "soul power trio", an opportunity for him to revel in strutting funk-rock riffs some distance removed from his more sensitive solo outings. Tracks such as "Bust It Down" and "Thank You in Advance" have the itchy, skeletal quality of The Meters, New Orleans' answer to Booker T & The MGs, with Jeff Hill's sinuous, elegant basslines stalking around the guitar chords, and Dan Fadel's drum patterns pared to the most basic and propulsive of backbeats. Other tracks exhibit the louche swagger of the Stones ("Rock'n'Roll Gone" and "Damage Talking"), the spindly white-funk edginess of Talking Heads ("Everything"), the lurching neo-boogie chug of Kings of Leon ("Dirty Summer") and even, on "Need Somebody", a crisp white-reggae snap that recalls Steely Dan's "Haitian Divorce", complete with sly wah-wah guitar break. Underpinning everything is a heretofore well-hidden grounding in soul and blues. Overall, it's a surprisingly engaging album, in a direction which Casal might be well advised to pursue on a more permanent basis than before.

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