Since forming in 1997, the Southern Backtones have been steadily evolving as a band. Their second album (2002's The Formula) shied away from the surf-rockabilly sound that defined the first record, and that break alienated some fans but gained others, along with some national exposure. The Backtones' new, self-titled effort finds the band making an even larger departure and also coming more into its own.
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This time around, the Backtones -- whose bassist Mykel Foster works in the Press's circulation department -- serve up a blend of straight-up rock and roll with a modern approach that smacks of mass appeal. The band's anglophilia is apparent -- shot through the record are strong hints of David Bowie, and lesser reminders of the Cult and even the Buzzcocks and Gang of Four, though stretches also call to mind the Doors. Obvious '80s Brit-rock leanings aside, the band manages to put its own spin on the songs and create a sound that's uniquely Southern Backtones. Songs like "Forever," "Here's Looking at You Now" and "They'll Never Come Between Our Love" build on the Backtones' rock-star swagger, layer on a bit of Texas charm and sprinkle on the cool, while the somewhat boring "Little Ghost" is the only dud on the set. -- David A. Cobb