True Life Songs and Pictures

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Comprised of musicians from Paddlefoot and the Spikedrivers, 86 purveys what the band members have playfully termed "jug rock." Although those words probably evoke images of a deceivingly amateurish aesthetic, rife with electrified washboards and gourd banjos, in reality the tracks here are built on tight three-part harmonies and excellent hooks that are altogether free of novelty kitsch. The sound may be unconventional at times, with the frantically chugging drums and banjo racing against the vocals in "How to Get There" and the catchy "What to Whistle When You Walk Home After You've Thrown Up in Front of Your Friends" not exactly adhering to any genre rules. While certain tracks lend themselves to comparisons to bluegrass rockers Golden Delicious or the stripped-down quirkiness of the Violent Femmes, the great majority of these songs employ a more straightforward sound. The extremely tuneful pop progressions of "You Are a Star" shows a band that comes as close to approximating early AM radio country-rock as any of their contemporaries. The similarly excellent "Wildflowers" is pure Byrds-era Sweetheart of the Rodeo perfection. Further, the minor chord changes of "Don't Close Your Eyes" approach a level of pop tunefulness almost recalling pre-Revolver Beatles balladry. All in all, a set that ends up being much more sophisticated, complex, and refined than you'd ever expect from the self-proclaimed kings of "jug rock."

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