Purple Hill Bring on the Macho

"Glorified bar band" stopped being pejorative as the Hold Steady started ruling playlists in the middle of the decade. Purple Hill look to skim off some of that acceptance with their latest release, Bring on the Macho, to varying success. The country-tinged rock band out of Toronto, ON live up to their album title with brawny riffs and some needed shots of testosterone and blue-collar imagery, but the songwriting makes the macho wear thin after awhile. Putting their best foot forward in "That Northern Light" finds them at their Springsteen-iest, but early in the first act they hit the same issue Stay Positive-era Hold Steady ran into: how do we keep rust belt roots interesting in 2011? Their forbearers turned to synths and keyboards, but Purple Hill double down and stick to what worked. "The Hermit of Gully Lake" zips along as a sing-along hymnal and "Rainbow Unicorn" tries valiantly to save what is so badly hindered by a bygone formula. (Independent)