Just in time for the onset of fall, the Heavy Pets offer up a set of cool, acoustic music on their third studio album Swim Out Past the Sun, which they'll be celebrating the release of this Saturday at the Stage in Miami.
The album's release is reminiscent in feel to the Grateful Dead's American Beauty. In both instances, bands who'd gained popularity as electrifying, jamming, live acts turned it down a few notches and play some lovely songs. The two albums even have the legendary David Grisman in common -- he guests on mandolin on both. The songs on Swim are a mix of intricate compositions, heart-felt songwriting, and reggae-funk grooves. Echoes of Phish and Wilco throughout, but with a Carribean flavor -- which adds an enjoyable, homegrown feel for the South Floridian listener.
The album opens with one of it's strongest tunes, "3 AM." Here the band opens with a driving rock energy and then unpredictably, and smoothly, drops into a reggae groove, and then back again. The way they move between styles in this song shows the maturity and creativity of the band. The timing is great, and vibe change is very natural.
One of the stand out elements of the album in general are the vocals of Mike Garulli, Jeff Lloyd, and the band as a harmonizing whole. Garulli's strength and range on this opening song offers a preview of things to come throughout the rest of the album. The song also features great interplay between the musicians and nice backing harmonies, though these strengths are present more-so in other songs.
The second and third tracks, together with "3 AM," make for an especially strong segment of the record. "A Boy and His Bog" is a beautiful instrumental -- sadly, the only one on the album--and "Stay on My Heart" features some of the best singing of the set -- from Lloyd, who gets very soulful, and the band, whose harmonies are tight and sweet. Singing is a department where many jam bands are lacking. The Pets do not lack there, though they are weak at times in a way typical of many jam bands, lyrically -- such as in the "everyday's a bridge between dreams" chorus on "Bridge." However, the vibe of the record is good and strong enough to look past some of the more cliche lines, and is overall a great sounding, great feeling set.
Here's the Heavy Pets performing "3 AM" in a live setting this past spring.
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The Heavy Pets. 9 p.m. Saturday, October 22 at The Stage, 170 NE 38 ST., Miami. Tickets cost $10. Click here.