Call Bishop Don a band of dilettantes. The guys dip their toes into a variety of forms to cadge together a sound reminiscent of an old bar band. They blur the lines between roots, indie, hard and classic rock in delivering a debut full-length, Flowers from the Devil, with broad appeal.
Like the shadowy night creatures they undoubtedly are, they flit from rumbling country-rock rave-ups ("Lady of Tides") to blues-tinged dissipation ballads (the terrific "Symptoms") to dark, midtempo indie rock that recalls the Afghan Whigs ("Sick Sweet and Senseless"). The songs reek of spilled beer and dashed hopes like a roadside juke joint for the desperate or dispossessed. "Here we play it loud and sing along, and the waitresses sing every line/So we don't hear the bombs we just see them shine," sings guitarist Blair Crimmins, on the standout "World's Last Friday Night."
They don't "waste their lives trying to be clever," instead forging a pub-brand populism that revels in the release a moment's joy can offer. With the generous groove and Crimmins' hooked-lined riffs, the trio's boisterous anthems are nearly irresistible. None more so than the Sublime-influenced "If You Can Feel It," which encapsulates Bishop Don's attitude: "If you can't feel it, what good is it anyway." There are a few missteps (the sleepy Adult AC of "Small Talk" and the lingering '70s prog smell of "Paid Cruise"), but overall this is an adventurous and engaging album.
Bishop Don's CD release party is Sat., Dec. 3, 7 p.m., with the Heart Attacks, Steadlur and the Swear. $8. The Masquerade, 695 North Ave. 404-577-8178. www.masq.com.