Hickory Wind

Hickory Wind

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Like many a late-'60s album pressed in extremely minute quantities, Hickory Wind's self-titled record is a mighty odd bird. It's not so much that any one song is weird. It's more the cumulative effect of the record, in which the band not only don't seem to be seriously pursuing one direction in particular, but don't seem to be particularly serious about pursuing anything. The nonchalant, naive, slightly off-key way they trundle through this mixture of garage rock, country-rock, and melodramatic teen pop almost gives the impression of B-grade session players recruited to record an exploitation album. It's not nearly as bad as that comment might indicate; actually, there's a fair amount of charm that bleeds through, almost in spite of itself. Their vocals and harmonies are engagingly tremulous, the production refreshingly lo-fi. And there are some rather good songs here, particularly the country-rockish "The Loner," which sounds almost like a youthfully naive attempt to emulate early Neil Young (and it's entirely unrelated to the Young tune of the same name); "Country Boy," which comes as close as any song here to being a normal solid late-'60s country/psychedelic rocker; the waltz-like organ swirls of "Father Come with Me"; and "Judy" and "I Don't Believe," which are yearning teen garage pop. This is broken up, though, by the is-this-a-joke-or-what "Mr. Man," a melodramatic recitation that sounds as if the band were trying to make fun of solemn religious devotional records. It's hardly great, but it's worth hearing if you enjoy quirky collisions of garage rock and late-'60s psychedelia.