Leroy Justice treads carefully into jam-band territory.

Leroy Justice
Above the Weather
Elm City Music

Leroy Justice treads carefully into jam-band territory, owing to a musicianship and tightness that can turn out 8-minute listening experiences and 34-second guitar solos that are complex and fast-traveling without flying away to Noodleville.

The band self-describes as “guitar-driven,” which is accurate if not too simply put. Collectively, the dual guitars are the “frontman,” with singer Jason Gallagher holding down rhythm while vocally channeling Shannon Hoon. Meanwhile, the revolving tones (delays, country twang, esoteric reverb, jangly Jazzmaster, psychedelic ’70s riffs, crunchy blues) of lead guitarist Justin Mazer (who also plays with MiZ) are controlled and pronounced, leading the rest of the band to pockets and bounties of grooves. “Before I Die” goes from subtle to sprawling, each pick stroke working for position, no laurels to rest on in a song layered with at least 10 (I lost count) different 6-string parts of varying technique.

This is a band on the move, and while the slower ballads build and break out nicely, the players shine during blues rompin’ and longer, instrumental-on-steroid arrangements. Through earbuds, Above the Weather is a collective of heartfelt, seriously rockin’ tunes. The more promising thought, however, is imagining it live, vis-á-vis.

Must-hear tracks: “Watch Him Fall,” “Two Trees”

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

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