(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, March 15, 2010

CD review - Follow the Train, Mercury (2010)

Follow the Train had already called it quits by the beginning of 2009. But Dennis Sheridan managed to resurrect a version of the band to record for Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and his Removador Records label. Mercury smoothly assembles an eclectic mix of songs into an interesting whole. The sound is a fairly unique take on indie rock, but the touchstone reference is Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker. Part of that is Sheridan's voice, which recalls David Lowery's tone and vocal style, but the scale is tipped by the intriguing collection of genres crashing together.

Movin exemplifies this mix. It starts slow and places a My Morning Jacket groove over a shuffle beat. Once the strings come in, we're back in Camper Van Beethoven territory. The vocals start out with a nice Americana-folk style. The guitar arrangement is sweet and flowing, but the real star here (and on much of the album) is the bass work. It's busy and melodic, especially once the spacey bridge section kicks in. Follow this link to get a copy from the record label.

There a touch of Cracker and Too Much Joy on 219, which has a cool reggae section. Speaking of which, Listen, mines the reggae undertone perfectly. There are two competing guitars, the calm slide and the jagged wail, laying down a psychedelic foundation, They're tied together with a moody bass line and laid back drum that nail a dub rhythm section; it just needs a chank. It never slips over that line, though, as the chorus is more of a ballad style. Intensity creeps and the modulated noise of the bridge escalates. Three or four listens in a row doesn't lessen the impact.

Despite the variations between the songs, Mercury's flow is seamless and balanced. Follow the Train came back from the dead to bring us this album. Repay the favor and check it out when it comes out later this month.

I'll raise a glass of Dogfish Head's Indian Brown Ale in tribute. The fusion of beer styles is a fitting tribute to Follow the Train.

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