Hawk Race

Zam! Pow! Wow! Drop the needle on Earl Greyhound’s new Suspicious Package and hang on fer chrissakes, boys and girls. The Brooklyn-based trio tries on all sorts of outfits in the course of their sophomore album and manages to sound just like themselves from beginning to end – no small feat when you tally up the stops along the way.

Right off the bat, the two parts of “The Eyes of Cassandra” take us from vaporous vocals swirling around sparse electric piano chords to a passage of churning Afro-Cuban percussion which evolves into a Fragile-era Yes-flavored pounding, driving spiral o’ sound that never lacks for power but never seems out of control, either. And that’s the deal: throughout Suspicious Package Earl Greyhound may rip and tear through some Led Zeppish riffs (“Oye Vaya”), lurch out a bit of ominous Pearl Jam-like powerslog (“Shotgun”), and even offer up a nice slice of Sunday-morning-jazz-becomes-Sunday-afternoon-power-pop (“Black Sea Vacation”), but they never lose track of who they are.

The drummer in a trio situation (especially a trio who’s not afraid to go apeshit when the moment arises) can make or break things; have no fear, as Ricc Sheridan meets every twist and turn that Kamara Thomas (bass/vocals) and Matt Whyte (guitar/vocals) throw his way. Sheridan can do the multi-limbed percussion monster thing when the going gets wild, but he knows when to lay back and let the groove take a deep breath, as well. In the meantime, Thomas and Whyte prove themselves on Suspicious Package to be evolving and maturing as a songwriting and frontline performing team.

Listen to the album-closing “Misty Morning”: gentle guitar and bass clear the path for Whyte’s laid-back vocal during the opening moments. By the second verse, Sheridan has joined in with a brontosaurus-stomp beat that lets you know things could get hairy – but not before there’s a moment of Badfinger sunnyness … giving way to a total stadium-full-of-waving-arms crashing/thrashing/smashing outro. Dang – these Greyhounds know how to make a movie! Zam! Pow! Wow!