With a feel for the earthy jangle of bands like REM and Son Volt, and a touch of country influence and melodic sensibilities that allow many of their hooks to take flight, this Knoxville, Tennessee quartet’s first full length is a mostly winning combination of heartland and modern rock tones. This is not the first (and will doubtless be the last) review to mention that vocalist Jake Winstrom’s high quaver takes a few tracks to get used to but by album’s end, Winstrom proves a capable and charismatic guide through the record’s ten cuts. Bassist Emily Robinson’s backing vocals soften the rough edges of Winstrom’s voice and add harmonic color and richness while Ben Oyler’s guitar leads are consistently the high point of the record. The band’s material is best when assuming the shape of driving, straight ahead rock as on opener “Kidstuff” and the title track, though they hit the mark just as capably on the mid tempo “Flicker St.”, which especially highlights Robinson’s vocal talents. At just under thirty-four minutes, Vidalia is the snapshot of a band with many of the qualities necessary to enjoy success in a variety of markets (pop/rock, college radio, etc.). A bit more polish and growth will reveal whether Tenderhooks can capitalize on an album that amounts to a good first step.
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