The Wright Ave are an aptly named jam quartet out of Greensboro, North Carolina that have been gracing live music stages all over the area for a while now. With the release of their first full-length album, Open Mind, the band now has the chance to show what they can do in the studio. The result is an engaging and genre-blending rock album that incorporates elements of blues, funk, and even a little reggae into their overall sound of southern jam rock.
From the very first song, “Home”, the talents of band members Chris Hedrick (vocals, guitar), Michael Feeney (guitar), Ethan Creech (bass guitar), and Jordan Zomparelli (drums) are on display and combine well here with the inspired slide guitar of Roosevelt Collier, who is featured on the track. The titular “Open Mind” comes next to slow things down just a bit, ending with a gorgeous segment of music featuring Casey Cranford (Big Something) on EWI interplaying nicely with Feeney’s electric guitar. “Great Walls” is where the listener can get their reggae fix on the album and had me humming the tune to myself after every listen. The blues focused “You Are Mine” is up next and really manages to highlight the considerable prowess of Feeney on guitar and Hedrick on vocals. Things get kicked back up a notch with “More”, a swinging straight rock number that is sure to get your toe tappin’ and your head swayin’. The next track, “Media” brings in a slightly darker tone showcasing some incredible keyboard work from Bill Stevens (Producer, Ovation Sound) and absolutely driving drums from Zomparelli. The funk is in full effect throughout “West Coast”, which is currently one of my two favorite tracks, with the other being the album closing “Tabernacle”. Whereas “West Coast” wraps its funk up in a blanket of southern rock, “Tabernacle” just hits you in the face with it from the get-go and does not let up.
Overall, Open Mind is a solid debut effort from a young band with plenty of potential. They have always been capable of putting on an impressive live show full of original jams and rocking covers. But now The Wright Ave have shown they can put together an album of great songs that stand on their own while also bringing some of that infectious live energy into the studio with them.
If you want to see The Wright Ave bring their new studio stuff to the stage then be sure to check out their album release show at Oden Brewing Company in Greensboro on Friday, June 17th. Or you can catch them supporting Dopapod in Winston-Salem at The Ramkat on June 29th. Buy tickets here.
Open Mind is available on all major streaming platforms, listen now on Spotify.