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Research Turtles, hailed by critics as “the epitome of Brit Rock and Power Pop,” present Mankiller, a split release album on Normanium records.

With Part 1 out in May and Part 2 due in September 2011, Mankiller follows the band’s 2009 self-titled debut which independently sold over 5,000 copies and sent Research Turtles on an extensive tour across the Gulf Coast, supporting international acts such as Toad the Wet Sprocket, Sister Hazel, and Candlebox.  To top it all off, the debut album’s opening track, “Let’s Get Carried Away” was awarded 2010 “Song of the Year” by Great Britain’s RadioSix International.  Based in Louisiana, Research Turtles is comprised of Jud Norman (bass, vocals), Joseph Darbonne (guitar, vocals), Logan Fontenot (guitar, vocals), and Blake Thibodeaux (drums).

Widely varied, Mankiller Part 1 ranges from syrupy pop to grungy retro rock.  The first of five tracks is an unlikely number, short and sweet, titled “Girl Like You.”  Most albums don’t start out acapella, but then most bands don’t sound like they have both Green Day and ZZ Top among their influences.  Each track gets a little wilder than the one before, but Research Turtles weaves catchy choruses throughout, ultimately selling each song as a crowd pleaser.
Whether you like the music or not depends on how likeable you like your music to be.  “Bug’s in a Jar” and “You Are So” are both sweet but very commercial, making them suitable as teen pop tunes.  On the other end, “Rhinestone Gal” is the album’s most jammin’ tune, one reminiscent of Foghat’s “Slow Ride.”  And yet halfway through, the song breaks into this pop chorus which sounds like a love ballad shoe-horned in.  It gives the song a split personality.  This tune needs to let loose until it’s sprawled out on the stage, not suddenly tighten into an interjected pop ditty as if intimidated by the passion ignited by the music.
With all that said, Mankiller’s title track is Research Turtles at their best.  It is rollicking rock with just enough story to make it entertaining but not so cryptic that you ponder every line.  Like a modern day take on Hall & Oats’ “Maneater,” Research Turtles warns of a mankiller on the loose in sharp black heels.  In the verses you can hear the perpetrator on the prowl, while the quick-paced choruses express the panic.

Research Turtles dips into many genres: post-grunge, power pop, post-punk, southern rock.  However, they paint the sounds with only pastels.  The group either enjoys the subdued or has not yet come into their own enough to delve into the vivid.

Rating: 3/5


You can hear Mankiller – Part 1 and other Research Turtles albums here.  Also, check the site’s homepage for a free download of “Bugs in a Jar.”

Upcoming Shows:

Friday, August 19th, 2011, 9 pm
Luna Bar and Grill
Lake Charles, LA

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 9 pm
Luna Bar and Grill
Lake Charles, LA