Sorta Little Bay

Stumbling onto a mid-afternoon set by Dallas quintet Sorta was the biggest surprise of this year’s SXSW festival. Named after a Texan holiday area frequented by band members during their youth, Little Bay, their sophomore release, is proof the band can pull off their magic in the studio as well. Obviously indebted to their Texan roots, as well as the alt-country boom of the mid-nineties, the 12 tracks on Little Bay touch all the bases that make their live show. With guitarist Trey Johnson and bassist Danny Ballis alternating vocal duties, the 12 songs run the gamut from barroom rockers ("Laugh Out Loud”) to introspective ("Song For Birds”) to whimsical ("To Jenny”). The album’s masterpiece, the seven-plus minute "Fallinlove,” awash in swirling organ, distorted vocals and hauntingly reverberated guitar, is epic in every way. It’s one of those songs you just have to listen to again and again and again. The band is at its peak when main songwriter Trey Johnson takes the mic. His vocal style, dusty and worn in the same way that Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy’s is, best suits the band’s musical journey, one that Little Bay should ensure continues for a long time to come. (Summer Break)