The first half of the band's latest release, This Is BR549, might fit in OK on contemporary-country radio, but, fortunately, the remaining tunes kick up the tempo and remind listeners of the early days, when BR549 used to tear it up at Robert's Western Wear in Nashville. When Smilin' Jay and Bennett left the group after the album's release, the rest of the members went back to playing for tips and eventually hooked up with Scruggs and Firebaugh in Nashville's Lower Broadway district. The band's been touring since May with the new lineup, and reports are largely favorable. Our hope? That the new blood reminds the founders that "tight" is rarely better than letting loose and seeing what comes out.