Dead-inspired guitar noodles? Check. Syncopated rhythms and greasy breaks? Check. Weighty meditations on life and love? Check. Reprises that recur with the frequency of Geico commercials? Check, check and check.
The second EP by Raleigh septet Nuclear Honey, Nobody Panic meanders through a series of Southern rock-and-roots jam moves so familiar that they're either classic or hackneyed, depending on the vantage. Being a little generic isn't the worst thing in the world. If you're looking for bleach, who cares if it's Clorox or Val-U-Time? In the right hands these timeworn staples can kill, but these just aren't those hands. The seven-song EP follows last year's acoustic debut, Tombstone Sessions EP; it is performed with some skill and melody, so far as it goes. But Nuclear Honey fails to supply anything unique or vibrant to the formulas they espouse.
Nobody Panic opens with "Long Time Comin," a song whose lilting folk-rock recalls Counting Crows, complete with bouncy verse and wailing chorus. The guitar lead to "You Want It All" is pure Allmans, while the confessional heartbreak ode "On Our Own" counters with the frat-boy sophistication of John Mayer. During "Elephant," a reggae-fired jam, the elephant in the room is frontman Gray Henderson, who sings "I named him after myself." It is too cute by half.
If you're unfamiliar with Southern rock, the jams that flowed from it and the rock bands that have taken its ebullience as their own, Nuclear Honey's mimesis might be effective enough. But the turnip truck only passes this way a couple times a day, while the rest of us can be content to hum "Mr. Jones," should the abiding need ever present itself.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Overdue payoffs, new promises."