Album Review: No Justice – 2nd Avenue

Karlie Justus Marlowe | August 5th, 2010

No Justice - 2nd AvenueAfter achieving regional success in Texas and Oklahoma, alt-country band No Justice makes a go at national notoriety with an intensity that manifests itself throughout 2nd Avenue, its first play for mainstream success on Dallas-based Carved Records. That fire is apparent across the album’s sonic variety, underlined by lead singer Steve Rice’s talent for bending his voice to the range of tempos and emotions presented.

Driving drum beats and electric guitar solos create a relentless, breathless background for standard country themes of lost, lingering and lackluster love, interpreted in No Justice’s gritty(ish) blend of rock, blues and country. While Southern Rock-infused “Coming Up the River” and title track “2nd Avenue”–a dead ringer for a Kings of Leon cut–benefit from that shot of adrenaline, the band sounds best when it takes a breather. Standalone (and standout) slow tunes “Gone Ain’t Far Enough” and “Heart on a Chain” leverage the harmonies of Nashville singer/songwriter Rebecca Lynn Howard, proof that Music City isn’t always a bad word when it comes to Red Dirt music.

No Justice’s sundry of offerings comes at a price, however, when viewed in context of its attempt to springboard out of the Oklahoma music scene. As a whole, 2nd Avenue shows symptoms of a “spray and pray” tactic in which every musical influence and reference is presented in hopes of hitting a larger audience. Call it Red Dirt, call it Americana or call it pseudo-country alt-rock: The authenticity and drive of the quintet shines on 2nd Avenue, tarnished only when the band mistakes disjointedness for diversity.

3 Stars

  1. Ben Foster
    August 6, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    The music of No Justice doesn’t quite have enough twang as what I would like, but they do have some good songs. Steve Rice just flat-out sells the vocals on “Love Song.”

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