If there's one thing that Bevel Summers needn't worry about, it's finding an audience. The Chapel Hill septet rambles along the rustic folkways paved by outfits like Old Crow Medicine Show, hurtling headlong with the manic passion of early Avett Brothers and the boundary-obliterating bravado of Greensboro's Holy Ghost Tent Revival. Their tumultuous tangle of old-school blues, stripped-back old-time numbers and pop-inflected melodies is immediately accessible. This is just the sort of folk-rock jumble that easily wins over new fans—especially around these parts.
The band's eponymous seven-song debut affirms that their style matches both their talents and ambition. The music's impact derives from intensity, not ingenuity. Indeed, not one of their energetic genre combinations break any new ground. The acoustic-inflected garage shuffle that powers "Checkin' Out" is courtesy of Music From Big Pink, and the prickling fiddle-and-electric guitar counterpoints that grace "Brand New Man" recall the bravado of outlaw country.
Despite the familiarity, Bevel Summers never sound tired. They pump energy into time-tested styles, reviving them with a crazed sense of discovery. Indeed, like The Avett Brothers before them, Bevel Summers' impassioned performances allow them to make moves that would otherwise seem stale. "Death Wish" staggers about with ragged acoustic strums and an ambling bass line that's often more content to stumble. It's pleasant and familiar, but it becomes something more, thanks to the wry detachment of Jeb Brinkley's gravelly howl: "It's a real bitch, living in this world all alone," he offers, halfway between a chuckle and a wail.
On this big-eyed start, Bevel Summers succeed via infectious excitement, which is enough to overwhelm just about every dull idea here. If they could match their gumption and vivacity with a core of creativity, they've got the gall to be new "bluegrass-pop-punk whatever" favorites, just like the acts they obviously adore.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Loud, live or Latin."