By Monica S. KueblerWith alt-rock guitars, darkly poetic lyrics and a vocal style reminiscent of the mid-’90s Britpop movement (only in a more American incarnation), Southern Backtones start off their seven-song, third album on a high note with "Forever.” Yet by the second track, "Little Ghost,” a slower, purposefully rougher track with equally dark lyrical content, they seem to have shed some of those influences and adopted others. While this fails for many bands, this Texas-based quartet does it so masterfully and subtly that it in turn becomes one of the album’s major strengths — to morph styles and influences, while keeping the roots beneath constant. This self-titled disc is an accomplishment as they successfully take those that obviously inspired them (the Doors, the Cult and David Bowie) and borrow here and there but ultimately make a sound of their own — one that surprisingly is best described in their press release as "Brit-influenced rock with roots firmly planted in Texas.” Not only is the musicianship and songwriting on this effort top notch, but the production and mix are equally clean and polished, making this album play much more like a major label release than an independent one. Packed to the brim with alternately jangling and rocking guitars, lush lead vocals by the group’s front-man that draw you right in to the stories they tell, and no filler cuts, there is little to dislike here. Highly recommended.