King of the Rabbit Trail

King of the Rabbit Trail is a unique band—especially when it comes to style and genre fusion. They're like post-punks in cowboy boots and fronted by Julian Casablancas. For the most part, it's simple, rough-hewn, alt-country-tinged hard rock, rife with throaty, bitter vocals and loud, dry, dusty guitars.

"I Still Proclaim" is first up on this offering, with a wall of guitar distortion and a hungover, anguished heartsickness in Alexis Sanchez's voice. He's got problems, his lyrics suggest—but by the time the band kicks in, it just sounds like they don't give a fuck about his petty feelings. This unique dichotomy persists throughout the disc, as Sanchez whiskey-howls in pain, and the band obliviously and ecstatically plays on as if they're enjoying themselves at his expense.

If this sounds like a band that's confused about what it's trying to do, well, that's because that's exactly what King of the Rabbit Trail is. By "Love Child," the third track, shit really starts to hit the fan: The band strains to break out of their own pigeonhole, sounding more like The MC5 jamming at Roky Erickson's Austin trailer. Toward the end of the EP, on "Hot Temper," they "Stones" it down a notch, for what is certainly the closest thing to a ballad that a band of such unstable disposition could realistically pull off, and finish things off with a bold, almost-psychedelic, college-alt Western tale full of tempo twists and turns on "She's a Maybe."

It all adds up to a pretty indefinable mix—which, actually, might be a strength. There's promise here; the band just needs to pick a direction and stick to it.

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Alan Ayo