Friday, April 06, 2012

The Plain Steel: "Folk N' Roll" (album review)

Folk N' Roll is the forthcoming second full length album from Hamilton, ON's The Plain Steel.  The group add violin, viola, cellos, and upright bass to create a mix between psychedelic rock and hillbilly stomp (think Murder By Death).

The opener "Highway Song" careens from side-to-side like an old jalopy pick-up truck rumbling down a dirt concession road.  "Away" delivers a similar punch with a sharper hook.

Classic rock is an influence on the album as well.  Blues guitar pushes "Troubled Mind" along behind the near-Jim Morrison vocal growl of singer Ross Lizotte.  "St. James Infirmary" is a re-write of "House Of The Rising Sun".

The strongest songwriting comes on "Open Heart".  It's a Nick Cave-type story accompanied by an arrangement that simply won't let you catch your breath.

The record closes with the 21-minute multi-movement psychedelic opus "The Changing Suite".   Although it tests the limits of the listener's patience at time, the instrumental is like a bleek post-apocalyptic roots rock version of Sonic Youth's "The Diamond Sea".

Despite a closer that you'll likely tune out, the album does provide an EPs worth of excellent rock, folk, roots, and psychedelic melange.

Best tracks: "Highway Song", "Away"

Track listing for Folk N' Roll:
  • Highway Song
  • Troubled Mind
  • Away
  • Open Heart
  • St. James Infirmary
  • The Changing Suite

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