There’s a reason why the official video for Wild Adriatic’s album single “Lonely” features live footage of the band playing to a writhing mass of a crowd (at Pearlapalooza). They’re one of this region’s most formidable live acts, having built their considerable following on the merits of their stage chops. National jam rag Relix has championed the band and they’ve lately spent much of their time on the road, touring the Southeast this past winter and landing at SXSW last month, with a sound that fits nicely alongside genre standard bearers like G. Love and Ryan Montbleau.
The fact they have a new record is almost a secondary consideration.
Yet, well-crafted and well-dressed soul rock is what these guys are all about, so it’s really only been a matter of time until they’d have an album like Big Suspicious under their belts. There’s something retro about the formula: meaty guitar riffs, organ, tambourine and cowbell. Soaring vocals, infectious hooks. This is the stuff that was designed to move a party and still does. What Wild Adriatic bring to the table is economy and precision. The rhythm section of bassist Rich Derbyshire and drummer Mateo Vosganian is mercilessly tight throughout the record, providing that Band of Gypsys-consistent canvas for guitarist-vocalist Travis Gray to have his way with. It’s generally Gray’s blues-inflected vocals that figure most prominently but he finds time to flex some impressive fretwork on tracks like “Tight Grip.”
If Big Suspicious is vintage in its use of sounds and sensibilities from the ’70s, it’s not overly self-conscious. This is earnest, straight-forward stuff that works because it doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel or Twin Reverb amp.