The wild quintet fuses country, rock, Cajun, and jazz influences for a weird and wonderful collection.
British Columbian outlet Petunia and the Vipers have previously been described as “avant-country” -- a unique descriptor that fits the unique band all too well. Featuring the classical quirks of “Petunia” himself on lead vocals, he gels the rest of the unit -- consisting of multi-instrumentalists Stephen Nikleva, Jimmy Roy, Patrick Metzger, and Paul Townsend -- together into a lively collective with a jive in their step not dissimilar to the type of stage presence that another band in their lane like Old Crow Medicine Show or Madisen Ward or the Mama Bear might maintain.
This is, of course, showcased front and center on Petunia and the Vipers’ latest release, Dead Bird on the Highway, which once again is successful in producing a weird and wonderful mixture of sounds and influences ranging from early 20th century country and rock alongside jazz, Cajun tunes, and beyond. The mixing on the album is admittedly a little spotty, featuring some moments where the instrumentation could have felt lusher alongside Petunia’s front-and-center vocals, given the broad-spanning collection of instruments at play. Outside of that, however, the music is quite good and marks a step in the right direction for the wild quintet.