When I talked to Equaleyes' frontman Jeff Crosby at the end of last year, he said that the band's upcoming sophomore release "is the best thing Equaleyes has ever done." After a year and a half in the making, that CD, While I'm Alive, is finally done and what a long, great trip it's been.
Crosby (lead vocals, guitar) said that the addition of keyboard player Daniel "The Hawk" Bloominfield to the trio of himself, Brian Louderbough (bass, vocals) and Will Prescott (drums) brought with it some exploration into different sounds, including electronica. Crosby said that, when playing live, any time they play a bluegrassy song, crowds are immediately and enthusiastically responsive. Both of those genres plus rock, funk, reggae and, of course, the poppy-jam music Equaleyes is best known for are represented all across the release.
The low, slow six-and-a-half minute "Rain" bounces along a reggae chucka-chucka guitar line and gospel-tinged keys, buoying Crosby's husky, sweet voice which sounds better than ever. The five-minute opener, "Who Pretends" digs back into more classic roots, and is just a wah-wah pedal away from being a straight up rock song. "Where's Your Love", the shortest song on the album at four minutes, 11 seconds, is at least a country cousin, and track 11—which is so long that Equaleyes may find followers among the String Cheese Incident faithful—is where these guys cut loose and play the song they'd been hoping to play all along.
July 24, with Marcus Eaton, 8 p.m., $6. Knitting Factory, 416 S. 9th St., 208-376-1212.