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The Beautiful Ride, Live Nectar 

Album Review

click to enlarge cdreview-beautifulride.jpg

(Be Live Records, CD)

Self-described purveyors of “psychedelic tribal punk,” The Beautiful Ride returns with Live Nectar, the follow-up to their fearlessly titled 2007 release, Nevermind Nirvana . . . It’s the Beautiful Ride. As the title indicates, the disc is a sampling of live recordings made during a recent performance at Nectar’s in Burlington. While the music is in no way freaky, dance inspiring or punk driven, the recording is a decent account of the band’s loosely blended funk catalogue. It’s certainly not quite time to shelve your Nirvana albums. But the release does offer evidence of a band making some headway.

Songs such as “Thank You Jah for Sending Her 2 Me” are Beautiful Ride staples. Trevor Ayer’s trademark, casually bobbing, funk-inspired guitar riffs, bookend his unfussy lyrics and languid, not-quite-singing vocal delivery. Ayer serves this with a heavy dose of guitar effects, ably backed by the confident rhythm section of bassist Michael Secore and drummer Kevin Lawyer.

The trio’s tightly knit aesthetic is both an asset and a hindrance. In its more controlled moments, these three are clearly comfortable as a unit. Yet they sometimes attempt to create a sound that’s just too large for a conventional rock trio to execute.

“All Nite” is an apt example. The song is so driven by rhythmic, muted strumming that any melody within can be difficult to decipher. This could be a product of that ubiquitous live-recording flaw: a poor mix. In particular, Ayer’s bombastic guitar forays, with wah-wah and Flanger pedals, at times come off as separate and distant, especially compared to an otherwise crisp drum capture.

But there are some attractive bright spots. “Changes Come” rises above the din and stands out as a technical highlight. It is a doughy ballad anchored by thick melodic distortions. Ayer abandons his spoken word delivery for wails that reach a rare pleasing dissonance in the fray.

The rather clumsy take on “In Da Club” — the 50 Cent hip-hop neo-classic — is a bit of a stretch and, again, proves a difficult undertaking for a rock trio. It’s no surprise that the cover strays awkwardly from the original, despite the somewhat recognizable chorus. Yet it is a telling illustration of the band’s buoyant personality and they certainly should be lauded for the effort.

Despite the pitfalls found on Live Nectar, The Beautiful Ride continues unabated this Saturday at Radio Bean.

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