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Secret Machines

The Road Leads Where It's Led

Secret Machines, a Dallas-born trio of road warriors, whir in secret no more with their six-track, holding pattern EP The Road Leads Where It's Led. Because Road is two-thirds cover songs, it allows listeners a glimpse in to what makes the Machines tick more than where the road is leading the group.

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It could be assumed from the EP's cover ­-- an inverted image of the booklet accompanying the Secret Machines' 2004 full-length, Now Here Is Nowhere — that Road is intended to bring attention back to the Machines' most recent monolithic drones set to martial rhythms. Yet it takes far further a step back than merely to Nowhere, or even 2002's debut EP, September 000, by retreading influences.

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The tie to Nowhere is the EP's title track, "The Road Leads Where It's Led," but with its album intro abbreviated. The other original, "Better Bring Your Friends," cobbles together some T. Rex stomp and swagger. On to the real draw: the covers.

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On Bradford and Gordy's "Money (That's What I Want)" and Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks," the Machines plod methodically from verse to verse, as if soldiers resigned to their fates. It's only with Dylan's "Girl from the North Country" that the ache of recognition breaks forth and makes the funereal heft of the first three covers rewarding. And only on the most faithful cover — the German kosmiche tribute "De Luxe (Immer Wieder)" by Harmonia — do the Machines truly come across as the well-oiled, urgent regiment the trio can be.

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Secret Machines play the Tabernacle, with Kings of Leon and Helio Sequence, Thurs., Aug. 18. $25. 8 p.m. 152 Luckie St. 404-659-9022. www.atlantaconcerts.com/tabernacle.html.