taking a listen
reviews of the moment
LIONIZE–Superczar and the Vulture
Given how quick the music press has been to stigmatize rock-reggae hybrids in recent years, it’s fitting that the genre experiences a mini resurgence thanks to the introduction of a few new ideas. Among the bands making the strongest music is the Silver Springs, Md. quintet Lionize, who fuse heavy boogie rhythms and huge vocals with ultra-dubby low end and catchy riff rock, while for the most part avoid with same-ness that’s plagued reggae fusion practically since Sublime laid down blueprints for it. Lionize’s second album of 2011, Superczar and the Vulture, is in effect, thinking man’s stoner dub. They set aggressive songwriting ideas against spaced-out rasta grooves with a concise, hard-rock edge, eschewing overly long jams (though there is a drum solo to open “Vessel”) in favor if an adventurous J. Robbins production aesthetic (Against Me!, Clutch). The result is most immediately reminiscent of Clutch before their blues bent and Gov’t Mule at their trippiest, with opener “Dr. Livingston” delivered in a mood recalling Mule’s cover of “I’m A Ram.” Robust horns and Hammond B-3 punctuate “Superczar,” with the latter being the engine behind some of the album’s finer moments. Key boardist
Chris Brooks hits quick solos and transitions like a pro, but he’s best when he’s setting the pace on the spacey “Black Cat” or the blissed out “Trustafarian.” Most every song has at least one in-your-face guitar moment, like the snappy funk of “Flying with the Vultures” or the monster “Ballad of Ronnie Buttons.” Superczar and the Vulture embraces its island roots for sure, but it’s got a lot more in common with tattooed metalheads than boat-shoe-wearing trusties it spends a lot of energy sending up.
Lionize will open for Lucero at Ziggy’s on Tuesday, Dec. 27.