September 18, 2007

A Worthy Pursuit

I don't think I've heard an overtly alt-country album I've liked as much as I'll Follow You since Uncle Tupelo's Anodyne, and that's pretty high praise. Oakley Hall's newest Merge release finds the band channeling the same electric folk roots that Tweedy and Farrar drew their best material from. This record tones down some of the noisier elements of their previous release, Gypsum Strings, in favor of a much more produced sound, characteristic of Merge bands these days. Slow burning opener "Marine Life" lulls the listener into a false sense of serenity, before launching into one of the album's strongest tracks; "No Dreams" a twisting country rocker with some killer vocal harmonies. When lead vocal duties switch from Pat Sullivan to Rachel Cox, some very great moments ensue including the Skynyrd-esque "Angela" replete with one of the better guitar solos on the record. I'm also partial to "All The Way Down" a bluesy tune powered by a winding guitar riff which brings My Morning Jacket to mind. The album as a whole carefully toes the line between the noisy roots rock of Oakley Hall's past (their very own No Depression era) and their newfound glossily produced alt-country leanings. There are few bands doing this genre better; these city-kids have definitely gotten in touch with their country side. I'm seeing the group tonight at The Union in Athens, OH; show review to follow...

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