La Musica Negra

The Birmingham, Ala.-bred band returns after a four-year recording layoff, retooled as a trio following the exit of guitarist Anne-Marie Griffin.

The Birmingham, Ala.-bred band returns after a four-year recording layoff, retooled as a trio following the exit of guitarist Anne-Marie Griffin. As before, the noise generated by singer/guitarist Scott Bondy, drummer Les Nuby, and bassist Nick Daviston is nothing fancy—just slamming Stones-cum-Nirvana hard rock, heavy on the guitar hooks, produced with sharp focus by former Beck and Elliot Smith boardmeister Rob Schnapf. Several pungent entries—"Way Out West," "Killing Floor (Get Down on It)," "It's Alright, It's Okay (Jesus Told Me So)"—could tantalize freewheeling rock radio outposts. Verbena's down-time could prove a plus: They reappear at a time when the recent high profile of youthful aggressors like the White Stripes and the Strokes could open doors for them.—CM