Local Motion: The Heavy Pets (self-titled); Members to Play Funky Buddha Tonight

The Heavy Pets
The Heavy Pets

Even the biggest fans of the biggest jam bands don't expect much from a studio album. In this writer's view, the jam band studio album can serve a couple of purposes. The first is to superficially introduce the band to newbies and the new songs to fans. And for fans, the studio renditions of songs are only teases of things to come in the live setting. The second purpose is to hopefully create an enjoyable disc while you're at it.

With their self-titled second full length release, the Heavy Pets have achieved both of these objectives. The songs are kept short, with the longest clocking in at 5:42. This wise move should allow for the album to be enjoyed by jammers and non-jammers alike. For the jammers, the cuts deliver perfectly sized doses of the band's various characteristics, giving a feel of their overall vibe, and suggesting what may happen on stage.

As far as that vibe goes, the Heavy Pets certainly noodle on the Phish side of the jam band spectrum. Rather than being a big, southern powerhouse, or a thumping, serotonin-sucking jamtronic outfit, the Heavy Pets are a classic, quirky, stoney jam band. There are times on this disc, though, where the band sounds as much like Weezer or Lionel Richie as they do anyone else.

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One of the standout tracks, "How Would I," is a lovely, well-arranged pop song that sounds like it could have been penned by Rivers Cuomo himself (in his better years), yet the delivery is unmistakably, vibrationally, jam band. The dirty guitar groove that enters in just before the infectious refrain is an excellent teaser for the sort of energy this song could stir up live. The following track drops in like "Sexual Healing", and the track that follows it, "Lazy Anna", bears an odd resemblance to Linkin Park. The instruments keep a dark, ambient groove as an edgy, white-boy rap flows on top. Then, an emo-toned voice delivers the chorus. Elsewhere, on the rather boring "Spin 'Round," the band sounds like CTA with a Korg.

At times, while employing these different styles, the result borders on corny. However, it's done with a grin, making it far more tempting to join in the fun than to criticize. And that statement applies to the album at large. Though the Heavy Pets have not delivered an artistic masterpiece, they have given us a good disc. It's one that will be appreciated at parties and on the road towards summer music festivals. And it is one that will pique people's interests enough to seek out the live experience.

Those interested in seeing the band who happen to be in South Florida this week will not have to wait for long for a taste. Members of the Pets are set to take the stage at The Funky Buddha tonight.

Mike and Jeff of the Heavy Pets with The Funky Nuggetz Thursday, June 17 at The Funky Buddha, 2621 North Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Tickets cost $5.

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