If you ever get the chance to meet the members of Ten Toes Up its obvious from the start that they define what it is to be a group.
These four great friends that once resided and recorded in their living room in Murrells Inlet stress the importance of songwriting, obsess over instrumentation and thrive on having each member utilize their strengths to create a product that has garnered them a following unlike that of any other local band.
Their music, a mix of straight-up rock, old-school funk and backwoods blues, appeals to a wide range of fans with a variety of topics that hold both a uniquely of-this-place attitude and universal appeal that could some day carry them well beyond the Grand Strand.
On this road to success there has undoubtedly been up and downs, but in the release of the band's third full-length album "Sleeping Lion" Ten Toes Up takes a major step up with a polished piece of music.
From the moment you fire up the first track you know something special is coming. "Know You're Coming" takes off at a racing pace with some smokin' guitar riffs and the bands signature percussive backbeat. With hints of Stevie Ray Vaughan, this tale of chasing a woman is the closest to full-on blues the band gets before switching styles with a versatility that bleeds throughout the album.
Moving on, another standout track "Set Me on Fire" comes at you with a steady guitar beat and some of the album's strongest vocal moments. With a guest appearance from S.C. folk mainstay and album producer Danielle Howle, the chorus has some great harmonies apt to getting stuck in your head long after listening.
Hear a clip of "Set Me On Fire"
The albums title track follows, displaying some clever guitar picking and an impressive display of percussion which is continually builds to a crescendo in time for the chorus. The track winds down with a memorable chanting refrain of "we are the ones/who make the changes" a message which underlines the band's go-getter mentality.
From there the album slows a bit with the acoustic "Fortunate" and the brooding "Walk Again" before ramping back up for "Feel It All Over." This straight-up rock song with a great hook does exactly as the name suggests, basically daring the listener to try and not bob, nod or move to it's infectious beat.
Hear a clip of "Feel It All Over"
Coming to "21" you can't help but notice a nod to the Allman Brothers with an opening riff that brings back thoughts of "Life In The Fast Lane" before evolving into one of the band's more harder-edged tracks. The lyrics showcase the pitfalls of being young, reckless and in a relationship with a slightly bitter edge of someone who's been through the bad times and lived to tell the story.
The rest of the album, while strong on its own merit, carries more of the same with a mix of great guitar riffs ("Just A woman"), bountiful beats ("Make You Happy") and heartfelt lyrics ("Emma Be Patient," "Carolina Mess").
Closing out the effort is a track that doesn't quite fit within the framework of the rest of album, yet remains one of our favorites songs. "Struggles" is a fun little country and bluegrass-influenced romp about overcoming the challenges that will stick with you throughout your days.
Hear a clip of "Struggles"
Overall, this album easily tops any of the previous work from Ten Toes Up and is sure to please the band's dedicated local fanbase. Its packed with tons of memorable tracks and a variety of sounds that are apt to turn somes heads in the region and make many who happen across it a future fan.
Interested in getting your hands on a copy of "Sleeping Lion"? You can buy the album at the band's CD release party at the Hot Fish Club Saturday or visit www.tentoesup.com for more details on where it will be available.