Frontier Index

Frontier Index

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Although Frontier Index's press and promotion seem to play up the alt-country angle of their sound, the band's self-titled album is more country-influenced than it is country-rock. The record offers reasonably high-quality guitar rock, with songs emphasizing winsome vulnerability, though never in a sappy way. The vocals are well-suited to this kind of material, as they're youthfully engaging in a fashion that suggests they might have a hard time forcing themselves to be tough and nasty. Fortunately, they don't try their hands at the hard stuff, instead going for a generally more languorous roots rock feel. Comparisons to fellow Canadian Neil Young and Young-influenced artists are going to be inevitable on hearing "I Ain't Hurtin'," with its melancholy combination of harmonica with electric and acoustic guitars. Most of the time, however, Frontier Index don't sound especially like Young; if anyone, they sound rather like a 2005 alternative rock version of the late-'60s persona of one of Young's early bandmates, Richie Furay. The slow and fragile tunes, interestingly, are the ones that are most durable ("On and On" and "San Antone" being other standouts in that regard). The grinding hard rock of "If It Don't Work Out" is less convincing, especially as there's a riff that borrows too liberally from Joe Cocker's famous arrangement of "With a Little Help from My Friends."

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