Dead Confederate rose from the ashes of the jam-oriented Red Belly Band on their 2008 debut, Wrecking Ball, where they pursued a sweltering neo-psych throb in songs that stretched into extended, distortion-drenched vamps that bared traces of the Allman Brothers' jammy theatrics. Some of that old thud is evident on the band's follow-up album — especially in the spacey ballad "Run From the Gun" and the moody cello- and organ-abetted "By Design." But Sugar's songs are shorter, and the second half ups the tempos for a more aggressive attack. The album's standout cuts dispense with dynamics altogether and go straight for the throat. "Quiet Kid" starts at 11, mining a swirling early-Smashing Pumpkins-style rumble. And the clattering percussion of "Mob Scene" cues Stooges-like bombast, fueled by fiery guitar pyrotechnics. Sugar can be a bit disjunctive, but it offers tantalizing signs of growth and potential.
Chris Parker writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.