Musical fads are a double-edged sword…or are they a blessing and a curse? Either way, with each new “movement”, whether it be Texas/Red Dirt or Freak-Folk or whatever, we see an influx of artists that, thanks to the artists who initially drew the attention of the masses to a certain trendy style, get to bask in the glow of a spotlight, even if their actual talent doesnt necessarily warrant as such. Perhaps the fad that has most flummoxed me in the past couple of years is what I call the “String Band Craze”. For every OCMS, Avett Brothers or Hackensaw Boys there seems to be a million feckless, benign wannabees that send their CD’s out to bloggers because hey, they have a banjo and Pro-Tools on their laptop. Oh yeah, they ALL claim to not only be rootsy-real, but oh so very punk as well. Yeah.
Well, the new record from Milwaukee’s The .357 String Band (Official / Myspace) has thankfully renewed my faith in whatever sub-genre this type of rootsy music really fits into. In fact, I think it’s safe to assume that these guys couldn’t possibly care less about fitting into a certain style or marketing themselves to a new and homogenized demographic that might respond to certain trends that are deemed hip or progressive.
Lightning From the North, The .357’s third full-length album is indeed that bluegrass album with a punk heart that so many other records wish they could be when they grow up and are old enough to not only buy lottery tickets, but to also rob the store they’ll buy those tickets from. Crisp but grimey, the authority with which these pickers ply their craft is remarkable. The authentic, boozy and brawling vocals of Derrick Dunn are often augmented by the hillbilly harmonies that are yelped in a backwoods-style call and response with the rest of the band. These 14 songs simply tear it up. Take notes, wannabees.
About the author: I likes me some wine, women and waffles, not always in that order (but usually). Chaucer is cool, but fart jokes are even better. You feel like spikin' your country with a little soul or mix in a little rock without the roll? Lemme hear from ya!!