Many sounds of the moment have permanently perched themselves onto our eardrums, there being enough pulsating folk movements and experimental electro jams flowing about right now to take a bath in. And while this is all well and good, sometimes you just want to swap your techno shoes for a double denim ensemble and chew on a bit of straw.
Musicians repeatedly claim that they would be nothing without the bands that initially inspired them, and Water Tower Bucket Boys are a group that pay endless homage to those sounds of yore. Their third album Sole Kitchen is their first completely original release, a winsome thirteen track record full of the eclectic, the traditional and many a banjo.
Described by critics as a band that brings to life the golden era of American old time and Bluegrass music, Sole Kitchen lives up to this description in true country blues form. Creating a sound that would not be lost slotted between American greats such as Smiley Lewis and Howlin’ Wolf, these old souls deliver a much needed souvenir from a time when music did not need to be piled with glitch synths and robotic beats to affect and excite.
Opening track ‘Crooked Road’ is a high-paced introduction to an album to barn dance to, an array of instruments lending the track its rustic atmosphere – featured instruments throughout the record including the fiddle, banjo, mandolin, harmonica and upright bass. Refreshingly mellow ‘Telegraph’ unveils melancholy depths to lead singer Cory Goldman’s vocals, and a surprising similarity to the mournful resonates of Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum. Other highlights include the exceptionally speedy ‘Blackbird Pickin’ At A Squirrel‘ and ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, the tracks layered backing harmonies rendering it a befitting song to sing around the bonfire, drinking whiskey from your hip flask and wishing you hadn’t done all that lyin’ and cheatin’ and a-drinkin’.
Like any well produced album, the songs are of varying pace and ambience and demonstrate the bands full playing abilities. All songs are said to be inspired by the band’s travels through the West Coast of America and Europe and the beginning of their careers spent busking on the streets of their hometown of Portland, Oregon. A potpourri of influences and a thorough knowledge of the musical history they are representing is evident, enthused by the fact that half of the band are in the proceeds of gaining Jazz degrees at University.
If you’re not one for revisiting the past then it may be best to move swiftly on, as there is little of the contemporary music scene to be found in this fiddle hoarding quartet. However one listen to this album reasserts just how much of the past can be found in modern music – after all, folk and Americana are hardly brand new discoveries, and the world and his dog are still singing along to Dylan and Cash. A knee-slapping corker of a record from a collective of emphatically skilled musicians, and a must for anyone who fancies getting their country on.