ACL Fest Sunday Reviews

ACL Fest Sunday Reviews

Blues Traveler

North Hollywood Shootout (Verve Forecast)

On the band's last true studio disc, 2005's ¡Bastardos!, Blues Traveler seemed on the threshold of a new direction, one filled with thick soundscapes and a prog rock vision that seemed to fit the band well. It's disappointing, then, that North Hollywood Shootout moves the partially Austin-based quartet into another realm, where adult pop meets the occasional heavy guitar riff. The harmonica histrionics of lead singer John Popper are nearly gone, replaced by pensive, sometimes obtuse lyrics; occasional hard rock riffs; and moods that modulate from fiercely dusky to overtly sunny. Mention must be made of "Free Willis," a nearly six-minute impromptu rant featuring actor Bruce Willis, which aims to be a dirty slice of R.L. Burnside but ends up sounding frivolous. Longtime fans might find comfort in North Hollywood Shootout's lazy grooves, but there's little fresh to excite anyone else. (5:30pm, Dell stage.)

**

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