The curse of Nirvana doesn't just plague Messrs. Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic -- just ask the Birmingham-based trio Verbena, which was saddled with comparisons to the grungetastic trio after its major-label debut, 1999's Into the Pink. Not only did Grohl produce Pink, but its heavy chords and vocalist Scott Bondy's strained yowls bore an uncanny resemblance to the bombast helmed by Kurt Cobain. Thankfully, the group's second release for Capitol, this year's La Musica Negra, deviates enough from formulaic aggro-angst to make those pesky similarities pale. Sure, "Way Out West" and "Remember" are overly reminiscent of faceless but catchy riff-surfing radio hits from the mid-1990s. But Bondy sounds like Mike Patton squabbling with Art Alexakis on "Killing Floor (Get Down on It)." Elsewhere, the group morphs into a bluesy bar band ("I, Pistol"), Southern rock jukebox heroes ("All the Saints"), a sensitive jazz combo ("Dirty Goodbyes"), and even sunshine-laden country strummers ("Me and Your Sister"). Join Verbena, and your sis, this Sunday at the Grog.
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