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American Catastrophe

Excerpts from the Broken Bone Choir

(OxBlood; US: 3 Jul 2007)

American Catastrophe takes you down a dark and lonely road, but it’s a road you’ll be thankful you took. With a vocal style that brings to mind Nick Cave singing over a Spaghetti Western film score, songs like “The Well” are, well, very good with its moody twists and turns that lure you in immediately. Meanwhile, “The Farm” takes a different route but gets to the same magical location as the deep baritone of Shaun Hamontree weaves its way over a bare bones arrangement for the course of seven glorious, gloomy minutes. However, there are times when that same voice heads into turf that might remind you of Chad Kroeger, as is the case with the morose “Broken Bone Choir” before it takes on a grittier, bombastic vibe with some pretty drum flourishes and rolls. However, this is quickly forgotten about when the winding “Wither” comes to the fore, with the delivery being a cross between Mr. Presley and The Tea Party’s Jeff Martin. The six-track effort concludes with the Mogwai-leaning and aptly titled “The Tension”, wrapping up a very exotic but appealing release.

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Originally from Cape Breton, MacNeil is currently writing for the Toronto Sun as well as other publications, including All Music Guide, Billboard.com, NME.com, Country Standard Time, Skope Magazine, Chart Magazine, Glide, Ft. Myers Magazine and Celtic Heritage. A graduate of the University of King's College, MacNeil currently resides in Toronto. He has interviewed hundreds of acts ranging from Metallica and AC/DC to Daniel Lanois and Smokey Robinson. MacNeil (modestly referred to as King J to friends), a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, has seen the Rolling Stones in a club setting, thereby knowing he will rest in peace at some point down the road. Oh, and he writes for PopMatters.com.


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