Some of us with a limited scope of vision figured Mellow Bravo — who strive for the crown of America's ultimate bar band — only had three possible strategies for following up 2010's Strut. They could play it safe and make Strut again; push their haggard, bluesy sensibilities to the forefront; or punch up their flamboyant arena-metal intensity. Recognizing a false choice, Boston's Bravo went for more grit and more thunder, scaling the crag by fashioning their answer to Guns N' Roses' Use Your Illusion. Although the solo on "Senorita" conjures Slash's heroic signature on "Estranged," Mellow Bravo is perhaps not on par with GNR's masterpiece. But it beats the living shit out of Chinese Democracy and everything Velvet Revolver ever squatted out. Doubters must heed the gut punch of "Love Hammer," the honky-tonk lament of "Prairie Dog," and "Ridin'" — a track destined for a spot next to "Eye of the Tiger" on your iPod's workout playlist. Keith Pierce and company loosen the rock-and-roll belt a bit and explore more complex sounds on Mellow Bravo, their sophomore record, but they're still able to beat you senseless with that same belt when they absolutely must.
MELLOW BRAVO + MOVERS & SHAKERS + ROADSAW + J/Q | Middle East Downstairs, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge | May 4 @ 8 pm | $12 | 18+ | 617.864.3278