Love Tractor may not exactly roll over you, and the group's new album, "Around the Bend," doesn't actually till new musical soil. But these four guys from Georgia sow some pretty intresting hybrids -- a sort of punk/hillbilly/gaelic/Holiday Inn-jazz variety that's at least colorful even when it's not particularly nourishing.
Some of this stuff, though, is doggone delicious -- particularly the sweetly rendered "Fat Birds" and the evocative closing track, "Timberland," -- although "Spin Your Partner" and "Pretty," tracked back- to-back on Side One, sound suspiciously like the same basic riff held up to a mirror at an impish angle.
A lot of the time, particularly on their jazzier tunes, they resemble the Lounge Lizards, except that they're infinitely less pretentious (read: self-conscious about their technical skill). And some of the time, especially when they "sing," they evoke early U-2, before that group got self-important and learned to shriek. Most of the time, though, they assert a respectable integrity all their own.
About that singing: Guitarist Mark Cline claims that Love Tractor's 1982 debut album marked it as an instrumental group, and that this album is partly an attempt to rectify such an assessment. This they propose to do by treating their voices as instruments, mere elements ('way down) in the mix. Maybe. . . I suspect these guys are just plumb shy. LOVE TRACTOR -- "Around the Bend" (DB 67). Appearing Friday at 8 at the 9:30 Club.