Review - La Musica Negra

Artist: Verbena

After the first minute of this album, it becomes obvious that Verbena is returning to their pre-"Into the Pink" roots. It's almost like the band's new lineup (bassist Anne-Marie Griffin has been replaced by Nick Daviston) made "La Musica Negra" to completely cast aside history and forget that Verbena ever made that Dave Grohl-produced, post-grunge torpedo that made all the indie brats scream "Nirvana rip-off!" "Negra" damn near copies the swaggering, Southern bluster of the band's 1997 debut, "Souls for Sale," and they don't even try to be discreet about it. "I, Pistol" clearly references "Shaped Like a Gun" so directly that a fan could interchange the lyrics (ironic, since both songs refer to weapons). The biggest difference is a lack of formerly common male/female harmonies, which, given Griffin's absence, is understandable. ("Negra" does include some feminine vocals on "Camellia," but it sounds forced, given the tracks surrounding it.) Though replete with softer moments, "Negra" ultimately is most successful at furthering Verbena's rock agenda.

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