A New York-based power trio, Earl Greyhound tends to get favorably compared to Led Zeppelin, so it would follow that the group’s singer-songwriter-guitarist Matt Whyte should be a miracle hybrid of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Even a cursory listen to their long-awaited debut album lays waste to that supposition, though.
Whyte’s voice is sweeter than Plant’s, and while he has certain Page-like licks down, what blues-rock guitarist of the past 30 years hasn’t? What Whyte really learned from Page and the other great 1970s’ ax-slingers is that you never play a note that doesn’t belong. The Zep analogy is better applied to the battery: Bassist Kamara Thomas and Big Ricc Sheridan demonstrate instrumental virtuosity in the service of cardiac-arresting presence. On the 9-minute pile driver “Monkey,” they are, to paraphrase De La Soul, hard and complicated.
Maybe the best thing about their debt to the ’70s is a deceptive sentimental streak. Melody-wise, they sound more like Badfinger, but Badfinger was never known to leave an audience in total ruins after a concert. The soft target is you.