One of numerous Southeastern bands nurtured in the Mitch Easter/Don Dixon pop bosom (both men play on the quartet’s first album; Dixon produced the first and two cuts on the second), North Carolina’s Accelerators blend crisp, energetic, well-mannered rock with a little ‘billy to give Leave My Heart just enough grit and soul to make it both memorable and charming, landing somewhere between first-album Elvis Costello, John Hiatt and Jason and the Scorchers. Guitarist-songwriter Gerald Duncan sings pleasantly enough (although more spunk would be an asset); Doug Whelchel is a strong drummer who occasionally overplays wildly, hogging the spotlight when restraint would be more helpful. “Regina” addresses interracial dating from a Southern perspective, using a blunt slur.
There’s even better-sounding guitar rock on The Accelerators’ dozen uneven cuts, including a remake of the tuneful “Two Girls in Love” from Leave My Heart. Duncan and Whelchel are the lineup’s only holdovers; new lead guitarist Brad Rice adds excitement and extra vocals to strong, melodic numbers like “Radio,” “(Why You) Hang Up on Me” and “Tears.” Unfortunately, the band’s lyrics are often simpleminded, and a fiery guitar solo can’t salvage the ill-conceived funeral-speed cover of “Black Slacks.” (A version of the Box Tops’ “The Letter” flies at a brisk clip, but gets them nowhere.) The Accelerators has its fine qualities, but still leaves plenty of room for improvement.