[17 February 2008]
For those who want their dosage of hard-driving musical intensity to come with a strong sense of technical skill and innovation, consider Prize Country, a group that delivers the goods on multiple fronts. To borrow from Faulkner, the Portland-based band brings both the sound and the fury. Their latest is 11 tracks worth of guitar-driven assault which highlights the work of guitarists Aaron Blanchard and Jake Depolitte. Their insistent playing is well complemented by the cohesion of bass and drums in the group’s rhythm section. The album’s best songs are those on which Prize Country give themselves the space to explore different textures and shades of the same color (“Lottery” and “Buy In” are stellar examples). The band also understands how to frame their lyrics with the appropriate emotional release; on another album highlight, “Time in Reno”, instruments are calmed while the words “It’s my moment of clarity” are clearly articulated over the faint but firm notes of a single guitar. With the attitude of punk, the riffing of, in some cases metal, some melodic hard rock and a world of passion infusing each note, Lottery of Recognition establishes Prize Country as a genuine force.