Maine, while famous for many things, has never been considered a hotbed of anything, except maybe potatoes. And lobster. So Maine is a hotbed of chowder, but what else? Well, it turns out the most northeasternly of northeastern states isn’t a bad place to nurture a music scene either. I wrote about Rural Electric’s debut a couple years back, surprised and excited by the duo of Andy Vietze and Alan Gibson and their modest, inspired folk rock songs. Two years later finds their sound increasingly refined, taking more and better risks, and generally a fine step forward for the band. The Road to Hell is Paved is paved with songs like the brisk “Mrs. Honeybee”, recalling circa-1985 jangle-pop with moody chord changes, and quirky lyrics about snowy chateaus and swinging hips. “Belfast, Maine & Me” is a wistful portrait of fading small town life. “We don’t want to make a killing / Though we’re hardly earning a living / We’ll stay right here in the hollow” goes the stoic, working-class refrain. Who needs the bright lights and big cities when there is inspiration for fantastic songs like “There Goes Another Woman” out in the sticks? Almost stealing the show though is “Aurora Borealis”, a 50-second snippet of orchestrated melancholy which opens the album, and suggests the Rural Electric road will go further onward and upward.
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