Loose Leaves are an up-and-coming alternative rock group based right here in Johnson City. Consisting of Trace Hoover (lead vocals/guitar), Jacob Tipton (bass) and Justin Hoard (drums), the trio’s sound is unique and eclectic, with influences ranging from folk to rock to hip-hop.
This diverse approach is highlighted on the group’s first album, “Pens and Pages.” The album was produced by the band and was recorded by Hoover and Matt Smith. Smith, who would be performing lead guitar for the group, is on temporary leave from the band while he pursues his education at Lincoln Memorial University.
“Pens and Pages” was released digitally last year, and as mentioned earlier, the album contains a wide array of styles of music in its ten tracks. Opening track “Wrong Side of the Bed” starts the album off with a deceptively light piano before going into a hard-rocking, catchy number. “Corrected,” a grungy ballad reminiscent of Soul Asylum, is aided by Hoover’s voice, which bears just enough twang to inject an earthy, soulful attitude to the song.
Other highlights of “Pens and Pages” include the heavy blues-rocker “For Your Heart,” which bears a resemblance to Led Zeppelin. “Mountain Eyes” marries rockabilly rhythms with strong melodies to create a fun, danceable tune that’s sure to get even the most stone-faced listener to crack a smile and tap a foot. The next track, “Lineage of Lilith,” paints a beautifully bizarre picture using Biblical imagery and Neil Young-esque guitars.
Amongst all this musical diversity, the lyrics and vocals manage to give the band a down-to-Earth honesty that’s all too uncommon in the modern alternative scene. The guitar playing on the album is another strength, with creative riffs on “Hearts” and “Mountain Eyes” and flashy solos, such as on “Wrong Side of the Bed.”
The album does have some slight production issues, with the vocals mixed awkwardly high in some places. However, much of this can be contributed to low-budget production. The final two tracks, “Hasty Heart” and “Real,” are rather poor selections for closing the album, making “Pens and Pages” end on a relatively weak note. Nevertheless, the album is a strong showing from these talented locals.
Currently, Loose Leaves are planning a tour for the summer and already recording a follow-up album to “Pens and Pages.” The band will be performing at a benefit show at the Acoustic Coffeehouse on April 2, supporting efforts to build an art hub in Kingsport.
“Pens and Pages” is available as a free download from the band’s Reverb Nation page: reverbnation.com/looseleaves8. For those interested in a physical copy, email the band at firstname.lastname@example.org and request a CD.