case 1: donut syndrome

Beggars (Island)

By Kory Wilcoxson

The Beggars' eponymous debut album suffers from the devastating Donut Syndrome: there is a hole in the middle.

The album starts off promising. The first track, "Falling Down," an even-paced pop tune disguised in alternative clothing, is an introduction to the fluid voice of Eli Braden and steady guitars of Jeremy Kunz. The group has an amorphous sound, with everything blending together into a putty-like final product.

That combo works well through "Don't," the fourth track. Then Braden's fluidity turns to monotony and Kunz loses himself in a solo on "Volcano" that goes nowhere quick/fast/in a hurry. Suddenly, that cool sound starts to get a little annoying.

The group recovers a bit for "Coming Back," which features a seemingly out of place but effective harmonica solo and "No Friend of Mine," both of which deserve better lead-ins than the songs before them.