Leigh Marble's Red Tornado is kind of like Donnie and Marie: a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll. The album opens with a hard-groove blues jam that segues nicely into a bluegrass/country, squaredance worthy second track complete with banjo and harmonica. Both songs are reminiscent of Brit rockers Gomez and some of their explorations into old Americana music fused with a relatively more modern approach to rock. It would seem that Portland, Ore.-based Marble has more insider experience with American music—and it shows. Further into the disc, the songs become more catchy and melody-driven, leading inevitably to track six, "So Far." When I first listened to Red Tornado and track six rolled around, I thought, "So far, this is my favorite song." Cheesy turns of phrase aside, it's an energetic, nicely arranged tune with a catchy chorus and this sort of prog/fusion line that I wouldn't have minded hearing another 10 times throughout the course of the song. Toward the end of the album, I was reminded a little bit of our own Ned Evett's latest release, and track eight, "The Big Words" brought to mind the reverbed-out sound of Texas group, Explosions in the Sky.
One of the coolest things about this record is that it's mostly, if not completely, organic. It's cut-and-dry, not over-produced. All the takes are honest, with a minimum of studio magic. It's refreshing and leads me to believe that Leigh Marble can probably easily pull off a great live show as well as a great record.
Leigh Marble, Dec. 12, with Hill Folk Noir, 9 p.m., $3. Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., 208-343-0886.