Ten Toes Up
Trip on Troubles

Fronted by soulful singer and guitarist B.J. Craven (formerly of local band Threadworks), the Murrells Inlet/Myrtle Beach roots/jam-rock combo Ten Toes Up demonstrate they’re more capable of solid pop songwriting than expected on their debut full-length, Trip on Troubles. Recorded at Sea Note Studio in Myrtle Beach (and engineered by Seth Funderberk), the well-polished production is full of radio-ready stuff – clean, crisp, full, and uncluttered, even with all the extra percussion and extra guitar and vocal tracks percolating in the background. The solid performances from bassist Charles Freeman, drummer Adam Miller, and percussionist Josh Gregory are practically flawless.

The eight-song collection does cover a lot of familiar music territory. At times, their modern Southern rock thang seems a bit derivative. The lead-off track, “Secrets,” with the heavy 4/4 groove and gnarly guitar licks, could easily pass as an early-era Panic rocker. The slide guitar-driven “Gracene” and “Paces” get even deeper into Allmans funk, although it never bogs itself down into redundancy. The jazzy fusion/funk of “Knows the World” resembles the noodly works of John Scofield, Glass Menagerie, and the like. The title track sounds like a rock band covering a favorite vintage gospel track – especially with the terrific additional backing vocals from Sheryta Spears. The scratchy stylus-on-vinyl sounds in the intro of “She Was Right” is a nice kick-off to “side two.”

Most impressively, Craven and the band stretch out on a slow-swingin’, waltzy tune titled “Devil’s Tea” – a folky anthem in 6/8 time that snaps with almost as much stout-hearted blue-eyed soul as anything The Faces, The Band – or, indeed, the Allmans – ever attempted 30 years ago. –T. Ballard Lesemann

Ten Toes Up play at Spud’s in Murrells Inlet on Sat. Oct. 21 and at The Roadhouse on Folly Beach on Fri. Oct. 27.

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