Yonder Mountain String Band

Elevation

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    6
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This Nederland, CO, band's brand of string band music is as steeped in the jam band tradition as it is in the high and lonesome bluegrass sounds originated by Bill Monroe. Though this isn't the first band to blend these influences, driving rhythms and exceptional picking make for an enjoyable debut, if not one without definite weaknesses. The band's vocals and songwriting talents (all four members sing and write) simply don't equal its instrumental abilities. Banjo player Dave Johnston's keening tenor sounds most believable floating above the band's rustic groove on "The Lonesome Heart" and the jukebox-ready alt-country weeper "Eight Cylinders." Jeff Austin is fast-fingered on the mandolin but sings too near the top of his limited vocal range. The Yonder Mountain String Band's chops put many of the album's weaker songs over anyway, suggesting that the band's live shows will make them wildly popular on the jam band and bluegrass festival circuits, where songwriting and singing are very often secondary to instrumental flash. Progressive bluegrassers Mike Marshall and Darol Anger make guest appearances.

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