Doug McCurry Doug McCurry & The Verticals II

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Submitted by Leeland Casper

If there’s one thing about North Carolina music, it’s quirky.

Exhibit A: Squirrel Nut Zippers

Exhibit B: Ben Folds Five

Exhibit C: Mipso

And, add to that list, Charlotte’s alt-rocker, Doug McCurry. His sophomore album, Doug McCurry & The Verticals II is a 10-track collection ripe with fun, weathered guitars and sing-a-long opportunities.

Kicking off the album is “She’s Running.” It’s a perfect choice for track one, as this Elvis Costello meets The Psychedelic Furs song holds your attention with sweet guitar riffs juxtaposed with earthy or even oaky sounding guitar riffs. The lyrics fall into place nicely. This track is ready for radio and the masses.

Pretty Eyes on Fire” has a different brightness to the guitar – McCurry’s channels some gunky guitar riffs, almost a bluesy-squelched sound. His steady-pace vocals sing “I wanna know who did it…who set your pretty eyes on fire.” His voice is easy to handle and as in “She’s Running” he has this Elvis Costello-esque thing going on. After the bridge, the guitar gets tinnier, where it nearly creates a whole different vibe. Strangely enough, the latter part of this song made me think of Wall of Voodoo’s “Mexican Radio.”

Track three, “Precious Rose” and track four “ Sugar & Lies” are both similar tracks in that they consist of simple but sharp lyrics. The music beds are easy to bop your head. Track five, “Beautiful Pain” has a beach vibe going for it. In fact, in the beginning of the song, McCurry has the sound of seagulls flying off into an imaginative sunset.

As expected, “Bossa Nova 4-2,” the sixth track, has a more Latin-fused acoustic guitar. I really dig how McCurry stretches his musical pallet on this track, as compared to the previous songs. His vocal delivery is still within a certain scope, but he paints a lovely musical background in this track. The more I listened to it, the more I liked it.

That Josephine” (track seven) really stands out on this record. It’s a slow-building, gunky kind of guitar riff mixed with mumbled audio. It’s garage band-esque. I was really moving along to the rhythm of this tune, much like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Down On The Corner.” It has this spaghetti-western gloppy movement. And, towards the end, McCurry’s vocals even reminded me of 10 Years After. It’s a super fun track.

In “Devils and Crosses” McCurry shows a bit more vocal range with a deeper, broodier delivery. I would say this track has a more Americana-almost country twang to it. Definitely, North Carolina influenced! Wordsmith McCurry sings “the more that I dig, the more that I find.” He seems to take the listener to a different level than the previous tracks.

Track nine (“No One Recalls Gary”) has this rubber-band twang thing happening with the guitar. You can almost feel and see the guitar pic strumming. And, finally, the last track, “Floating On The Wind” has a strong finish. Think “Seasons of the Sun” by Terry Jacks meets synthesizers. It’s a great song to get your summer started and another standout track on this already great showing of an album.

Overall, while it may feel like only two outstanding tracks on, Doug McCurry & The Verticals II, this is a solid album. If you’re fans of pop-rock in general, you will dig just about every song McCurry shares.