The Volebeats

The Volebeats

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The Volebeats are one of the best little American bands that most people have never heard of, and their sound, an autumnal mix of country-folk-rock, subtle Motown rhythms, and British Invasion harmonies, stands out of time, as if 1965 never ended. They just do what they do, and they have been one of Detroit's best kept secret for years now. The group’s 2010 album, simply called The Volebeats, is a sprawling 19-track affair that holds together like a well-stitched quilt, and like everything this band has recorded, it seems to come from the past, and here they deliver their own Exile on Main St.--only it’s more like the Flying Burrito Brothers and Gram Parsons reborn than it is the Rolling Stones. The songs, full of lovely harmonies and spare but appropriate instrumentation (Jeff Oakes and Matthew Smith on guitars and vocals, James McConnell on guitar and mandolin, Russell Ledford on bass, Scott Michalski on drums and occasional guitar, and Ryan Gimpert on pedal steel), are usually about sad love affairs poised between going on and ending, a subject that is always contemporary in any era. From the opening gentle shuffle of “With You,” this album is of a piece, with song after song building and adding to the fabric -- “Things People Say,” the lovely, unhurried “Dream Come True,” “1000 Miles of Confusion,” “Sadness Kicked the Door In,” “The City That’s Always Asleep,” the country ballad “I’m Not Gonna Change My Mind,” the Simon & Garfunkel-like “Kathleen No,” and the Byrds-ian do-over of Ray Davies' “This Is Where I Belong” all build on the feel of a rainy fall day spent perched between what was and what will be. Nothing is overstated and there are no fancy studio tricks in play -- the Volebeats just do what they do with little regard for what year it is. It's refreshing. They’re a great little band and this is a great little album.

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