Rick Bain and the Genius Position

There are at least a dozen bands in every town larger than a courthouse-square county seat that try and fail to capture the '70s FM rock sound. Rick Bain and the Genius Position is one of the few that succeed. This is lava lamp, black light poster, 'ludes-n-beer music of the first order.

Bain's band is able to breathe new life into a played-out rock strain thanks to the streaks of grunge energy glittering through their rocky ore. The band hails from Portland, and that city's relative proximity to Seattle shows in the "Black Hole Sun" guitar tone on Bain's "Orlando" and the Nirvanaesque level of energy on almost every track. But then keyboardist Joe Kaczmarek will caress out a Zombies-like organ run, and we're left with something far too colorfully psychedelic for the gray-green of grunge.

In grand Nixon-era manner, this is a concept album. All of the 70-plus minutes of Crooked Autumn Sun's lyrics are about bandleader Bain's marriage, described on the group's Web site as "at times strained." We'll have to take the site's word for it, though, as his lyrics are way down in the mix.

Still, the discriminating hesher will find much to munch on in this crunchy feast. It's just a pity that Crooked Autumn Sun isn't available on eight-track. There are plenty of vintage Pontiac Firebirds out there with neglected dashboard hi-fis crying out for this redux of '70s delight.

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