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Life at Best by Eli Young Band

This rising Texas-based quartet made its deepest chart dent thus far with the almost-Top 10 single “Always the Love Songs,” a track which points out that midtempo romantic fare is a sure thing on the dance floors (and, by extension, the airwaves) of America.

The band largely rejects its own advice for its second full-length major-label release, which rings with roots-rock guitars and meaty, often melancholy themes, delivered with muscle and, at times, an almost painful level of sincerity.

While select cuts provide major melodic payoffs and rousing bursts of inspiration, the disc’s overall weightiness and mettle may scare off mainstream-minded listeners (exception: the female-friendly “Crazy Girl”).

This brings the first Rocky movie to mind: Imagine boxing champ Apollo Creed as a swaggering Nashville star bringing the fast-talking flash and introducing his next disposable smash hit, and Eli Young Band as deserving contender Rocky, pummeling sides of beef, hell-bent on bringing the fire—and hardly dissuaded by the fact that, however unfairly, people often choose flash over flame.

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