Like every other group currently commercializing a pop reduction of reggae, Chapel Hill band The High and Mighties cites Bob Marley as its forefather. It also claims Marley followers like Sublime, 311 and Jack Johnson as inspirations, though, making its newest release, The Evolution EP, just more of the same—or a copy of more of the same of a copy of the source. Though it comes with cover art illustrating the advancement of a crouched ape to a guitar-toting human, the disc may as well be called The Retread EP.
The band's press materials claim Evolution has the band moving out of its vibe-heavy comfort zone to a harder sound, in the vein of Led Zeppelin or AC/DC. That's correct, as Evolution plays more like Name That Influence than anything else: G. Love's summery hip-hop blues grew tiresome albums ago, but it gets its moment again on "Candy Jar," an ode to casual sex complete with the phrase "a butt like a bubble." The frat party factor is high, which isn't surprising for a band that boasts accidental pregnancies, rehab stays and nearly a dozen DUIs on its Web site. Album closer "Turn the Lights Down Low" (direct!) blends 311 with Mandorico, though the two bands weren't all that disparate from the start. Lyrical and thematic shout outs to Jack Johnson mark "Anything So Good," though the good vibes flow quicker than from the ex-surfer, while "Dirty Queen" is a power-chord rocker that feels way out of place. It harshes the mellow something awful.
Maybe the title of this release is apropos after all. While a tolerable listen in its field, The Evolution EP makes it apparent that the band still searches for an identity to call its own.