Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Bluegrass Albums

A few new bluegrass albums have made it across my desk and into the iTunes folder lately. Here are some capsule reviews. (I’ll be going on about Cherryholmes in an upcoming profile in Acoustic Guitar.)

Cherryholmes, III (five stars)
Yes!!! There is hope for contemporary bluegrass. This is like Nickel Creek with banjo--or AKUS pre-CMA awards. Cia Leigh Cherryholmes is my favorite young bluegrass-related singer, she writes edgy songs, and plays banjo like Ron Block on steroids. Skip Cherryholmes is a total rhythm guitar monster. The sort of over-the-top metal-ish chord stuff is very cool and the whole mash/thrash rhythm thing makes total sense when played with this sense of abandon and rock and roll energy. “Sumatra” is the coolest bluegrass instrumental I’ve heard in a long time.

Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, Leavin' Town (four stars)
Totally great pre-Lonesome River Band bluegrass. If you, like me, heard a band like this at your local pizza parlor at an impressionable age, it could change your life. Go to the Bluegrass Blog and vote for 'em in every category you can.

Cadillac Sky, Gravity's Our Enemy (three stars)
These guys are all great players, but the vocals and songs are too much like those pop country bands I only hear when I accidentally turn on the CMA Awards or get to a movie at a multiplex too early. I really don’t like contemporary country music, whether it’s played by an arena rock band, a contestant on American Idol, or a quintet of young bluegrass virtuosi. But obviously millions of people love it. It’s just not my thing. Good luck to these boys, though. They should go far.

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