The John Butler Trio Grand National

While a big star in his native Australia, Butler’s funky folk style has yet to find a firm toehold in North America, where the festival circuit is already saturated with genre-hopping Ben Harper and Jack Johnson sound-alikes. That’s not meant as a total slight against Butler, as his command of slide guitar is certainly phenomenal, and producer Mario Caldato Jr.’s work throughout Grand National adds a lot of freshness to what would otherwise be standard jam-band fare. On the other hand, there isn’t much on the album to lift it beyond a good-time, rump-shaking experience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that with Butler’s instrumental prowess he could be a monster if he were able to write better lyrics than "I guarantee you and me are gonna get funky tonight.” Check out Kelly Joe Phelps as an example of the total package. But if you’re simply a jam band fan, Grand National is probably all you’ll need to get you through this summer.

(Atlantic/Warner) (Atlantic)