Rustic Overtones are back and have introduced themselves again to the world after a year and a half since their last CD, “Let’s Start a Cult.”

“Let’s Start a Cult 2” is the title of the new CD, so it is hard to not make comparisons to the first, and here are mine: “2” is more reflective, laid back and refined, and less chaotic, edgy and frenetic. It is more immediate, palpable and palatable big band funk and less underground jazzy grunge, but in the end, I like it all.

“High on Everything” seems to be an ominous yet thoughtful expose on today’s inebriated, overindulgent pharmaculture: “They gave us ibuprofen they gave us alcohol/ they made it hard to focus/ they gave us Adderall/ they made us smell the roses/ they gave us Claritin … they gave us Xanax so we never panic don’t feel anything – high on everything!”

In pure Overtones fashion, the song starts out with dramatic horns, building an eerie mood like something out of a detective movie from the 1940s. Once Dave Gutter reveals his quick-talking voice, we realize we are not being lulled back to the era of Bogart and Bergman, but fast forward to the era of Lohan and Lovato, where enabling parents and doctors give drugs to children rather than letting them get hooked the old-fashioned way, behind their backs.

“You Should be Worshipped” is a sexy little number. With the teasing horn section dancing around Gutter’s unveiled vocals, it’s a clean, straightforward ode to the oldest subject matter in music history. So as not to lump it in with all the most hokey love songs in the world, this one is quite iridescent.

Looking at it from all angles, it glows with honesty in lyric and truth to the band’s sound. The chorus is repeated on and on, in John Lennon “Give Peace a Chance” fashion, in order to pound it into the listener’s brain for good.

The tune incorporates tasty sax solos and a laid back groove worthy of some of the best funk R&B “hold it down” beats. The band glimmers here without clutter and chaos and this chantey is a sparkle in the shine.

The album as a whole is moody and dark, yet fun and ebullient at the same time. How do these guys do it? I don’t know, but I’m not asking too many questions. Good art comes from a place deep in the crevices of psyche mixed with mystery. These guys are a bit of an enigma to me, and I love them for it.

Kristin DiCara McClellan is a Portland freelance writer.

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