The Reign Kings

Bloom (Lazy River Records)

You don't hear many kids saying they want to be in an adult alternative band when they grow up -- and no wonder. Unlike punk, ska, metal, industrial and prog rock, adult alternative is perhaps the only genre based not on rebellion but rather redistribution and revision. It's where people cluster all the "college rock" that's too old and smart for its own good.

Although college-age customers find their way onto the Reign Kings' mailing list, it's almost certain that thirtysomethings make up its bulk. The reason Reign Kings are a perfect fit for Blues Traveler, Dishwalla and Concrete Blonde opening slots is because Bloom sounds like it was conceived with a late-'80s to '90s mindset. There are echoes of not only Better Than Ezra, but Crowded House ("Broken") and the Traveling Wilburys (check out the Jeff Lynne-ish production on "She Likes to Crash"). That's obviously not a bad thing -- here's a wide, disenfranchised audience that wants its own concerns addressed and needs to hear some big, important guitar solos in the bargain. And the Reign Kings deliver on both, occasionally concocting a hook like the title tune's gorgeous chorus that's so undeniable it transcends the band's AA power source.

If there is a complaint, it's that singer Scott Briggs' lyrics tend to wallow in sensitive-guy territory ("three weeks ago you left me here to bleed"), and the album's lone attempt at levity ( a "pop" number about getting local Zone DJ Tracy Lea drunk) seems forced and almost traumatic when it's programmed after the album's most bombastic cut. My guess is that the Reign Kings have enough smarts to figure out the happy medium between ear candy and a good book.

 
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