The Doxies | In Search Of… (Co-Opt Records/Emergency Umbrella Records)

In Search Of… reaches back to the band's roots, concentrating on '70s Southern rock boogie guitars and upbeat piano-driven melodies.

cd_thedoxiesIn Search Of… finds the Doxies further along the same trajectory as 2005's Weight of Gold, leaving behind the Midwestern alt-country of their first two albums for a more straightforward rock attack. While Weight of Gold mixed in more modern influences like the Strokes-like stabbing guitar and processed vocals of "Kid Don't Know," In Search Of… reaches back to the band's roots, concentrating on '70s Southern rock boogie guitars and upbeat piano-driven melodies.

You'll find it hard to believe that the Doxies were the sort of band who would call their debut Tractor Crash as soon as you hear the dueling guitar riffs and giant pop chorus of opener "Goat," a crunchy pop gem straight out of the Smithereens' songbook. The second track, "Every Once in Awhile," sees the band exploiting their newest weapon: female singer/drummer Phylshawn Johnson, whose sunnied harmonies perfectly compliment Wes Wingate's clanging piano and the sleepy lead vocals. Those same lead vocals conjure up images of the worship of Wilco's pop masterpiece Summerteeth that made up much of Weight of Gold, but thankfully, that influence is not nearly so pervasive on In Search Of…, as the Columbia, Mo., quintet strikes out further into unfamiliar territory as the album continues.

Elements are scattered all over this record to prove how far the Doxies have come as a band since the release of Weight of Gold. The piano plays a much larger part on this record, particularly on "Ghost," a song that surprisingly echoes the '60s throwback pop of the short-lived Lawrence, Kan., band the Anniversary, and the keys grant a sort of Springsteenian grandeur to "Radio." The guitar solos are monstrous this time out, the chugging, arpeggiated riffs launching each song to a new high at precisely the right moment, and rich harmony vocals are scattered about with newfound skill. Everything comes together on the Band riff "War Against the Future," a mellow piano-driven pop number with an incendiary guitar solo after the first verse and a chanted "nah-nah-nah" group vocal on the outro that dares you not to triumphantly hoist your lighter skyward and shout along.

The only major misstep the Doxies make on In Search Of… is, oddly enough, the cover art: the stark, black-and-white line drawing of a Chuck Taylor-clad young man riding a bike, holding a boombox in one hand and a revolver in the other, is practically false advertising, seeming much more appropriate for a political punk band's first 7" than an album of classicist guitar rock. The only other complaint one could lodge against this album, and it's a fairly minor one, is that the album could use a few more rough edges; while the instrumentation certainly sounds great, the crystal clear production is a bit too much for the everyman vocals, making them sound a tad plain and lifeless at times. With all five members sharing singing and songwriting duties, however, there's more than enough variety to keep things interesting.

With In Search Of…, the Doxies prove once again that they are one of the Midwest's best-kept secrets. If there is any justice in this world, they won't be a secret much longer. A-

RIYL: Wilco's Summerteeth, The Jayhawks, Lucero

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