Chris Robinson, the charismatic Black Crowes frontman and band leader for the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, has been carrying the the soulful boogie-woogie torch since the early '90s. His music has served as a gateway drug to past styles for kids raised in a digital era and it has reassured baby boomers that there's still plenty of good ol' rock swagger out there. CRB's latest release, Phosphorescent Harvest, is a mid-tempo mix of retro riffs, jangly folk and a double dose of classic psychedelia to keep the heads swirling.
Oddly, it's not Robinson who really steals the show on this record. He never quite hits the howling fervor he's so capable of, instead favoring a more laid-back delivery that leaves something to be desired. The fretwork of ex-Cardinals axeman Neil Casal and the spacey keyboard sounds conjured up by Crowes' accomplice Adam MacDougall power the engines here. After the energetic blues shuffle of the opening "Shore Power," most of what follows recalls the sunnier, stonier side of the Grateful Dead. The blissed-out instrumental "Humboldt Wind Chimes," a bonus track released only with CD and vinyl copies, is the most adventurous song here, and Casal bites into his solo with an attitude regrettably missing from most of the album.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood plays the Top Hat Tue., May 13. Doors at 8 PM, show at 9. $20/$18 advance.