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More Alt-Country Rambling

(Scratch Records)

After hearing this release, it seems to me that there must be multi-instrumentalist alt-country groups for nearly every large city in the United States and Canada (given that Radiogram is from Vancouver). While probably the most obvious reference in terms of musical style is Lambchop, the sounds of the group could also be likened to that of the more obscure Willard Grant Conspiracy (and their new Mojave release). Like the aforementioned groups, many many people played on the recording in some form or another (in this case, it was 11), and the instruments played range from accordian to violin, with things like acoustic guitars and organ inbetween.

Also like the groups mentioned above, Radiogram has created an interesting and layered album of meandering tracks that would probably remind most listeners of "porch sitting music." Sipping tea (or lemonade) and watching the sun go down while talking with friends about past relationships or your favorite place to go on a Saturday during the summer. That's what this disc is all about.

The disc starts out with the piano and string flavored, "Always Crawl" and moves along at a very apt pace with brushed drums and weary vocals that sound as if lead singer Ken Beattie will drift off at any time. Fortunately, the disc picks up the pace ever so slightly with the very next track "Slide" harmonized vocals between Beattie and Shelley Campbell. Continuing the grand tradition of songs about seeking solice with large bodies of water is "Take Me To The Sea." The slow waltz of a song is yet another that makes the ebb and flow of waves seem so inviting. One of the best songs on the album is also nearly the longest and most drawn out. "Disparate Times" moves along at a completely languid pace, but the light accordian addition and two-part male/female vocals of the aforementioned duo give it a feel perfectly suited to the title.

The group wisely picks things up a bit the song following, before closing out the album with the minute long classic Nashville sounding "The Ballad Of Sadie Henry" and the darker sounds of "Bad Side." Like the soft watercolor painting on the cover of the release, the atmospheric (minus a few parts where some stragly guitar makes its way into the mix) album flows along and together nicely. Although it's considered country, it's nothing like Garth Brooks. That, of course, is a good thing.

Rating: 6.75