Good (Independent)

The title of the Waterband's debut provides the most sterling example of truth in advertising since Kim Fowley released an album called I'm Bad. In fact, this Aurora-based trio (quartet, if you count guest percussionist David Keen) is just a tad shy of great.

For lack of a better way to pigeonhole these guys, we'll call them a jam band. Seems strange to do so, as most of the 18 songs come in at three to five minutes, but there's plenty of high-level musicianship: The guitar work sparkles, the rhythm section is outstanding, and all four bandmates play instruments identified only as "stuff" (horns and woodwinds, mainly), which impart a surprisingly fresh sound.

Where the Waterband is lacking is in the vocal department. David McDougald, Rick Phillips, and Keen can be better served by sticking to their instruments and finding a dynamic singer to frame their skills. Their songwriting is top-of-the-line, blending beauty, edginess, and humor. A gifted set of pipes would lift this contingent onto the A list of eclectic bands. They're so close.