Mandolin Orange‘s “Hard Travelin’” is a delightful mix of Americana, bluegrass and country. As the band’s name might suggest, mandolins feature heavily alongside loosely-tuned snares and slide guitars. Solos trade off between guitar and mandolin, injecting an otherwise standard verse-chorus stomper with an immense amount of vigor. Mandolin Orange’s consummate musicianship honors the genres they traverse.
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Dead Horses’ “Brothers”, despite immaculate audio engineering and weighty honky-tonk piano, captures the folk sounds of the late ‘60s. It’s a wandering song, oscillating between acoustic and electric guitar, loping forward on understated drums and wailing vocals. The song travels in the most melancholy way, a modicum of misery following it wherever it goes. In other words, its disenchanted folk mines a fertile ground that’s bloomed for the past 50 years, and its slow crescendo works as well now as slow, sad crescendoes did for Bob Dylan and Joan Baez in days of yore.
Riley Etheridge Jr.‘s “Hush” is the sound of reconciliation, an acceptance that things are how they are for a reason. Its mellow lyrics are accentuated by its simple, gorgeous backing, acoustic strumming that occasionally makes way for starry electric guitar. It’s a gorgeous song, a strong case for the potency of minimal arrangements. It doesn’t have many moving parts, but its parts fill the room properly, leaving the perfect amount of space. In other words, it’s a full piece of music — and that fullness leads to incredible things.
Changüí Majadero make, as the name might suggest, changüí, a Cuban style of music defined by stuttering hand drums and twirling guitars and bass. It’s an exercise in rhythmic gymnastics, providing the rump-shaking verve of salsa, one of its descendants. “Vamos Pal Guaso” shakes and shivers, the bassline jumping every which way behind acrobatic vocal harmonies. Hypnotically repetitive and gloriously syncopated, the song is captivating and liberating.
Changüí Majadero’s El Changüí Majadero releases September 16th.
The Dexateens’ “Teenage Hallelujah” is, as the title would suggest, an ode to the hedonism and stupidity that comes with being a teenager from the perspective of the older and jaded. Accentuating that hedonism is a guitar onslaught that rushes through the song’s two minutes, ripping solos and broken-amp sound manipulation taking center stage. It’s the quintessential Southern rock song, dusty and distorted and frenetic. Teenagers grow up fast, so this song speeds forth appropriately.