This release has all the markings of a jam-band album that would translate well to a live performance: The solos are flashy and virtuosic; the beats are solid and danceable; and the hooks are infectious and memorable.
But while Los Lobos saxophonist/album producer Steve Berlin gives the band plenty of space to groove to its heart's content, it seems to take away from the cohesiveness of the album, like the songs are unaware of each other. Rather than deciding on a definitive, unified sound that extends outward, The Bridge tends to genre-hop as if it were filling categorical quotas; the transitions from horn-addled funk-fusion like "Big Wheel" and "Geraldine" to overwrought acoustical balladry like "Long Way to Climb" and "Dirt on My Hands" can be so jarring, it's as though two different and unalike bands are featured in the same 48 minutes and 19 seconds.
But where National Bohemian succeeds is in its bold moments, with opening numbers "Sanctuary" and "Chavez," the spaghetti Western of "Moonlight Mission" and the languid wah wah pedals of "Hey Mama." If the studio versions are any indication, these songs would keep any crowd out on a Tuesday night.
The Bridge plays the Top Hat Tuesday, April 26, at 9 PM with Black Snake Moan and The BoxCutters. $7.