Crash Comfort

Crash Comfort's CD isn't exactly at the top of the world.

Fronted by former Twenty Mondays vocalist Ken Sheppard, Houston's Crash Comfort strives to make original and earnest rock on its debut CD. But while there are a number of bright spots in these 14 tracks, the overall impression is a faint one. Much of the material simply fails to make you reach for that "repeat play" button.

There is a heavy spiritual bent to many of the songs -- with words like "redeem," "pray" and "paradise" strewn throughout -- and the Almighty is the first person thanked in the liner notes. But like H-town's other spiritual rockers, King's X, Crash Comfort deftly sings on a higher level, without the trite mantras. "Get On with It" builds to a nice Chili Pepper-like level of funk, while two other strong tracks, "One Knee" and "Soul Drunk," could equally be about God -- or just a goddamn good-looking girl. On the latter tune, Sheppard's vocals and Larry Cooper's guitar have a particularly sincere ring, colored and buoyed by the rest of the group: Mando Perez (drums), Jeff Enlow (bass) and Lee Alexander (keyboards and lots more). Houston staple Carolyn Wonderland lends distinctive backing vocals to a number of tracks, and her presence is most welcome.

But the more reflective tracks, such as "Waiting" and "Lover Have I Been Wronged?" simply plod and meander, while the ska-tinged "Comfort" seems rote. And that's the main problem with Soul Drunk Lingering Day. Overall, there's just a lack of memorable melodies to inspire (at least this listener) on an emotional level. Like a patient who has flatlined, the music doesn't exactly bottom out -- but doesn't flicker to life either. Sheppard's vocals also hover too often in a limited, strained range, making matters run together. (A lyric sheet would have helped.)

Soul Drunk Lingering Day has a little rock, a little pop, a little ballad…hell, it's a little of everything. But just like Emeril Lagasse could tell you, sometimes a little just ain't enough for a good meal. Bam!

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