Music

Cherryholmes: Cherryholmes IV: Common Threads

The fourth release from the Cherryholmes clan proves they can play, but their attempts at New Age newgrass and their determination to take turns make for a lousy listen.


Cherryholmes

Cherryholmes IV: Common Threads

US Release: 2010-06-01
UK Release: 2010-06-01
Label: Skaggs Family
Amazon
iTunes

So, who's your favorite Cherryholmes? I'm tempted to say Jere, partly because of the bassist's and patriarch's old-prospector-on-a-Harley look, although he brings some of the worst onstage schtick in all of bluegrass. You don't hear much from Jere on Cherryholmes IV: Common Threads, the family band's new album. He sings none of the thirteen new songs, which might be another reason to like him. After all, the group's singing is one of their real weaknesses, along with a treacly set of new-agey songs that, despite some considerable instrumental flash, sinks the album.

The band are all about flash, as evidenced by the slick album covers and the Glamour Shots in the packaging. Cherryholmes' promo materials look like they were assembled by the marketing team in charge of Cinderella or Winger publicity back in the big '80s, right down to the Roman numerals in the titles and the lightning bolts on the covers. Still, as ripe as the Cherryholmeses appear to be for satire, the band is no joke. Ever since deciding to mold their children into a a bluegrass ensemble years ago, Jere and Sandy Lee Cherryholmes (yep, real name) have led an impassioned writing, recording, and touring life, turning themselves and their kids -- two boys, two girls -- into top-shelf pickers, even earning the IBMA's Entertainer of the Year award and a couple of Grammy nominations for Best Bluegrass Album.

All of which is why IV is such a disappointment. What's apparent here is an effort to move further down the progressive-bluegrass path forged by bands like Nickel Creek and the Greencards and away from the more traditional bluegrass of their earlier records. There's nothing wrong with that approach in and of itself, and it's unsurprising in a group as young as most of Cherryholmes are. Unlike those other bands, however, Cherryholmes' commitment to their own original material is not an asset.

The limitations on IV are due in part to the band's democratic approach to letting every member take his or her turn at the mike. That sort of family policy works fine when deciding whose turn it is to lick the batter, but it doesn't end up as a good move on their records. Like all collectives, vocal (and writing) talent isn't parceled out evenly, but in an effort to shoehorn everyone onto the tracklist, listeners have to put up with inferior material like Skip's cloyingly repetitive “It's Your Love”, BJ's nearly unlistenable “Making Pretend”, and Mom's clunky gospel-ish “Standing”.

The ringer of the family is banjoist Cia, clearly. She's far and away the best singer of the bunch, and if every song here sounded like “How Far Will You Go”, a graceful Alison Krauss-style bluegrass ballad, IV would have been a winner. On the other hand, the most impressive track is the album-closing instrumental, “Tattoo of a Smudge”, which proves beyond a doubt that these kids can flat play. They've been hammering away at these banjos, mandolins, and guitars since they were single-digits old, and they prove it on this breakneck barnburner. It's enough to make you look forward to a Cia Cherryholmes solo record, on which her family agrees to a full-time supporting role.

3


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pay Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.