Ten Toes Up - Sleeping Lion CD

Original as they are, Ten Toes Up sounds like so many great and dissimilar bands, how can one help but to love them?

Intentional or not, I am often reminded of Black Crowes meets Widespread Panic with a hint of Monster Magnet's brashness flecked throughout, and if that isn't an odd combination, I'm not sure what qualifies. Sometimes odd combinations are the best sort. The diversity on this album means, if nothing else, the listener isn't driven to boredom. There's likely something here for anyone who's a fan of rock music (maybe I should simply say, music), in its various forms.

Strong storytelling and singing over a varying sound canvas are definitive elements of Ten Toes Up's format. Regardless of whether the band is playing in a balls-to-the-wall style,  something more akin to John Butler ("Sleeping Lion"), or a back-country inspired ballad ("This Fortune is Easy"), these guys are masterful at their craft.

It's an all-too-rare surprise to stumble upon an invigorating group you haven't heard before, and Ten Toes Up is one of those bands. There's nothing worse than being lulled into the realization that an album's first track sounds just like its fifth track, which sounds just like its tenth track, and the same for everything in between. Sleeping Lion will keep the listener's ears guessing, and my ears always welcome a thoughtful surprise.

Listen to Ten Toes Up because they likely hit on a sound, regardless of who you are, that you're going to enjoy. That said, don't listen to them just because there may be an influence you already know you'll love, but listen to them knowing you may be turned on to a new and inspired groove. My intentions in listing the various groups and styles Ten Toes Up reflect (bands purposefully tapped and bands I just interpret as being influences) is not to say they are a group of copy cats - quite the opposite! The sounds I'm hearing are but echoes that have been sifted through and brought new life through this band, a band that is often reminiscent but always uniquely creative in its product.

-        Jeremy Sanchez