Too many bands talk about their "sound" as if they've gone and single-handedly revolutionized pop music. Few groups ever really do anything new, so tip your hat to The Real Nasty for actually coming up with a fresh approach. The trio includes acoustic bassist and singer-songwriter Ryan Lukas and electric guitarist Jacob Groopman, but the wild card is Matthew Smith, who plays cajón, the Peruvian hand drum that looks like a packing crate and combines the sounds of kick drum, conga, and snare.
The album is divided between rock and countryish tunes, with the cajón sounding most innovative on the country ones. It adds a subtle Latin swing to the Johnny Cash bounce of "The Surprise," a hint of funk to "A Pretty Nice Place," and turns "Never the Plan" from a typical country shuffle into something more puzzling. The rockers are carried by Groopman's inventive guitar work and Lukas' new wave-flavored bass. "Time to Lounge" is a melodic punky rocker and kiss off to an ex, with an ironic edge. "K C's Blues" lives up to its title with Ryan's howling blues vocals and electric guitar, while "I Don't Love You Anymore" is a poetic, R&B-flavored ballad enhanced by Lukas' whispered vocal. The nastiest song is "Bad Medicine," an R&B-meets-country thang with a killer opening line: My girl's on drugs, and I am too. (Opus Music)