Tea Leaf Green
This San Francisco quartet’s new album, Taught to be Proud, opens with a song that’s delightfully reminiscent of the Band’s “The Weight.” As the album progresses, it becomes increasingly easy to dismiss its traces of Phish, the Allmans and (the more whimsical, song-oriented side of) the Dead as too obvious, but the flat-out ear-pleasing appeal of Tea Leaf Green’s gentle grooves sneaks up on you. Like Moe, TLG focuses on songs and keeps ’em to the point. While these new songs are recorded to sound restrained and delicate, the material lends itself to that perfect balance between soothing and energetic, provided the band plays with enough fire onstage. Beware of mild-mannered hippie boys bearing gifts of sunny vibes, though: One song suggests that Civil-War-era freedom fighter and abolitionist John Brown did the wrong thing at Harpers Ferry while the title track hints at nationalism. If songwriter Trevor Garrod is being satirical, he’s a fine lyricist. If not, his gall does a disservice to his fine music.