Drunk Uncle

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Five years into their career, New Jersey's Cropduster released their sophomore effort, Drunk Uncle, and garnered a surprising amount of recognition in the process. Topping out at number 22 on the CMJ charts, Drunk Uncle found that the band had matured and solidified their sound since their 1998 self-titled debut. However, with vocals that linger somewhere near the same sing-speak cowboy range as the Supersuckers' Eddie Spaghetti, guitars that tend toward choppy strumming, and a general alt-country air that mixes things up with distorted electric guitars now and again, Cropduster's music is likable, if not terribly groundbreaking. The addition of intermittent wonky sound effects helps keep the record interesting and shows the band's interest in outfits like Pavement and the Flaming Lips without copping any of those bands' moves. "Milkman" sports a mix of merrily strummed acoustic guitars, handclaps, and maracas that makes it one of the album's catchiest numbers, with its chorus of, "these are the things that piss me off." Much of the album has a spirited jangle that calls to mind Philadelphia's exquisite outfit the Trouble With Sweeney, and songs like "Lower East Side Blues" would have fit nicely on that band's sophomore release, Dear Life (though in the interest of rocking out, Cropduster occasionally turns things up a notch further than the Trouble With Sweeney normally would). Melodic, well-played/produced, and really quite easy to like, the only real problem with Cropduster is that they seem to be a one-trick pony and the songs all kind of sound the same. As a result, by the time the end of the record rolls around, the tracks have all sort of blurred into one long song, and you'd be hard-pressed to recall a single chorus.

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