BYOG is a Charleston, South Carolina-based quintet that first formed in 2011, then reformed in 2013. Since then, they have offered a thinking man’s, groove-centered interpretation of rock and roll and jam with varied influences ranging from the Talking Heads to the Band to the Allman Brothers. BYOG released the 7-track “Out of the Dark” in 2013 after recording sessions at Arlyn Studios in Austin, Texas. The band features Blake Zahnd on vocals and guitar, Phil Pasquini on keys and organ, David Buck on lead guitar and vocals, John Wienand on bass, and JP Treadaway on drums, percussion and vocals. In crafting their sound and exploring different musical moods, one will find these 7 tracks to be a collection of lyrically driven tracks embellished by enthusiastic guitar flourishes, excited runs on the keys, and well-delivered, intelligent lyrics.
“Lefty Lucy” begins as a light jaunt, with measured guitar and honey-dripped keys, offering an ambling shuffle. The track changes gears halfway through, becoming an inspired gallop with guitar as a spirited counterpoint. The second track, “Silver Teeth,” serves up a soulful blend, first with measured keys and spirited harmonies before coalescing under jovial segments of guitar and keys. “Satisfied Alone” strikes a thoughtful pose, nicely framed with guitar, searching lyrics, and Pasquini’s confident work on keys. The fourth track, “The Cost” has a warm, robust quality, featuring excellent interplay from David Buck’s lead guitar and Pasquini with Blake Zahnd offering engaging vocals as well. Zahnd’s “Stone Rodeo” strikes a meditative, thoughtful stance, offering a layered, moody composition that gives David Buck’s guitar room to shine as well. “Shattered Wheel” offers a nice platform for Buck’s guitar, Pasquini’s keys and soulful vocal delivery from Blake Zahnd as well. The album closes with “Renaissance Man,” a winsome, wistful track that invokes a nostalgic spirit with its lyrics and guitar.
The seven tracks of “Out of the Dark” invoke the spirit of the highway, a sense of hope that is tempered with a sense of matter-of-fact wisdom, and even with just a twinge of loneliness. The tracks vary in mood and presentation, and offer a reflective side as well. Life can be bittersweet; full of twists and turns, and these are things that teach us as human in the experience we call life. Underneath these somewhat higher aiming sentiments, the album is characterized musically by excellent guitar and keys, confident musical arrangements based in rhythm, blues, rock, and jam as well. The overall picture offers lots of facets to chew on, and the new listener will find themselves thinking in reflection, while also tapping their toes in appreciation.
-- by J. Evan Wade