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Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands

Cody's Dream

(Bloodshot; US: 4 Mar 2008; UK: Available as import)

Even if you haven’t heard of Mark Pickerel, you’ve almost certainly heard him, thanks to his drum work on records from Screaming Trees/Mark Lanegan, Neko Case, Brandi Carlile, and even Nirvana.  But this might be the first time you’ve actually heard his voice, which is a weird and wonderful blend of Chris Isaak and Nick Cave. This, combined with the Southern Gothic subject matter of the songs creates a record that might be played during the prom at Tim Burton High School. Standout tracks include “Cherokee Grove,” a 1950s-esque, sockhoppy pop number and the combination of “Cody’s Dream,” the Clash-influenced opening track. Pickerel also enlists the help of several stellar guest stars, including Ian Moore, Afghan Whigs cellist Barb Hunter, and producer Steve Fisk. Overall, this is one of the better Americana records released in 2008. While Cody’s Dream may not immediately stick out upon first listen, it’s definitely a record you’ll keep coming back to.

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Juli Thanki is a graduate student studying trauma and memory in the postbellum South. She tries to live her life by the adage "What Would Dolly Parton Do?" but has yet to build an eponymous theme park, undergo obscene amounts of plastic surgery, or duet with Porter Wagoner (that last one might prove a little difficult, but nevertheless she perseveres). When not writing for PopMatters, Juli can generally be found playing the banjo incompetently, consuming copious amounts of coffee, and tanning in the blue glow of her laptop.


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