As a fan of The Band, there was nothing to not like about these guys – foot-stompin’, homespun folk rock from upstate New York is a pretty good way to get my attention. (Velvet Underground wannabes, Joy Division imitators and Talking Heads knock-offs make up a large part of my record collection as well, it seems). These songs all sounded great and they sounded even better on the actual record. The thing is, I never expected these guys to be much more than what I’d initially discovered, but to my surprise, they have far exceeded that. Sure, they owe 95% of their sound to The Basement Tapes, but they also grew up in the place that inspired that record. This is not some band from Ohio that moved to Brooklyn to reinvent The Big Pink. These are some kids who grew up together who are playing the music that best suits them. It doesn’t hurt that Mr. Lead Singer Felice is turning out to be a fantastic songwriter and the band itself has carved out a perfect place for itself in the world of live music. Anyone that has seen these guys (i.e. not me) has reported that they tear the place apart with their hootin’ and hollerin’ and accordians and fiddles. They also seem to be the type of guys that will play anywhere, from The Beacon Theatre to a Surf Shop in Montauk – they constantly tour and always impress.
None of their live energy would be possible, though, without the songs and this decade saw these guys releasing a bunch that I play over and over again without ever getting old – “Love Me Tenderly”, “Penn Station”, “Cooperstown”, “Take This Bread” and “The Greatest Show on Earth”.
In the end, though, “Frankie’s Gun” is the one that got me hooked from the outset and it’s the one that will not leave your head for days after listening to it.