Thursday, January 8, 2009

Can I contain the excitement? About Chatham County Line.

I know the unspoken rule here is that we were really only supposed to review indie music. But Phish announced their summer tour dates today and I'm going to have to go ahead and Freak. The. Fuck. Out.
I'm trying to devise a plan to go to all the shows. Since I was doing god knows what when they were touring through the 90's and early 00's (probably sitting in high school...), I'm going to more than make up for it this time around.
2009 holds some big things for Laura's music world. Phish on tour. No Doubt (my not so guilty pleasure since middle school) on tour. Some of my favorite singer songwriters releasing new work: Matt Costa and Eleni Mandell, etc. My new heightened awareness of indie rock and the magical world of listening that comes along with it. This is big.
I listened to the latest Chatham County Line release last night. I'm not calling it new because it was released this summer. IV is a good album, in fact I would even venture to say that it's a great beginner bluegrass album. I get a slight twitch when I see Chatham County Line described as alt-country. They're bluegrass...I do not, and never will, like country. I think this is a good way for someone to get into bluegrass because it has many of the necessary requirements: banjo, mandolin, songs that tell intense stories, etc. But it doesn't hit you over the head with bluegrass. It's subtle (for the most part) and it's approachable.
I'm going to be a jerk here and compare Chatham County Line to Yonder Mountain String Band. It's really unfair to compare bands and I know that. But on My Quest to Find the Least Annoying Bluegrass Band, Yonder Mountain String Band has unofficially held the crown for a while now. For the most part, I can really get down with YMSB. They have some tracks here and there that are a little to twangy, a little to hill billy, a little to something for my taste, but overall they rock. Chatham County Line has the same problem: randomly inserting twangy-ass songs into an altogether kick ass album. Something tells me, though, that a bluegrass album is not complete with an instrumental track of just banjo jams. Perhaps that a bluegrass rule I don't know about. So suffice it to say, Clear Blue Sky wasn't my favorite track on the album. Thank goodness it's only 1:57.
The real gem of this album? Birmingham Jail. What an incredible track. Now, I'm not sure if this song stuck with me because it sounds very reminiscent of the opening song for the short lived Joss Whedon series Firefly. There's a pretty good chance that this similarity is why I love this song. But without that, it still tells a powerful story of desegregation and Dave Wilson sings it like his life depends on it.
Other strong tracks include the opener " Chip Of A Star" and "Whipping Boy". In fact, as I go through and listen to the album over again, I'm finding many more awesome songs. Hey, this is a good album!
I'm going to spend money on this one, ladies and gentlemen. It gets 4.3 empty wallets out of 5 empty wallets from me. And it'll also get my $$.
Album streams here.

Seriously, who does Chatham County Line remind me off? Little Feat? The Band? This will require some further listening.

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