Roadside Glorious styles itself as a blues-rock group, but there’s a surprisingly strong soul element that lands them more on the side of swamp-rock. The result gives them a range that exists somewhere between the Black Crowes and the Black Keys, though they lack the bleeding emo-gospel depth of the former at their most stoned or the indie neoclassicism of the latter.
Such a dichotomy means they often come off sounding haunted and righteous on this, their debut: the friend in “Ain’t No Friend of Mine” turns out to be not a person but a concept, specifically, “standin’ still” (but also, ironically, moral ambiguity). Likewise, the lone story song “Catalina,” despite being set in 1964 Birmingham, doesn’t have much to say about its subject other than that she’s an old maid. And the gospel-rock opening rave- up (and first single) “Lay Your Weapons Down” sure sounds like a call to action despite the title, what with all those deferred dreams and political cynicism littering the verses.
Okay, so it’s all about mood. But it’s a great, consistent roots-rock ambiance, a remarkable ruckus raised by four men recording in Muscle Shoals, even as they heavily augment their sound with all the usual genre trappings: piano, organ, horns, plenty of backup testifyin’. Whether getting funky on “Sure As Hell” or doing the blues-rock shuffle on “By the Roots” or going all Allmans on “Jasmine,” Roadside Glorious are your one-stop shop for all things Southern Rock. Just don’t expect much more than a groove. Yet.