Lowery 66

Holiday With Genie

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It's rare that you would find a group including two history professors and a neurobiologist paying homage to the likes of Neil Young and Yo La Tengo. But that's exactly what this album starts off with. "It's Alright" begins with a distorted and sometimes-murky guitar rock arrangement before moving into an acoustic style resembling Wilco or Golden Smog. Lead singer and history professor John Troutman slows the song down to a lovable country crawl. "Picket Fences" is a slower Gram Parsons country number, but it's a song Troutman shines on over Darlene Plyler's fiddle. The hue of melancholy only adds to the luster of the songs. Perhaps most agonizing is waiting for the drums to kick into the tight roots rock jangle of "Hello." They eventually do, before the band uses handclaps and every other instrument available to them. It's similar in tone to the pop moments of Wilco's Summerteeth. The crossover style between alternative rock and a roots rock sound doesn't always blend well. "Birdseye Stroll" doesn't have the same flow running through it and sounds more like a cut-and-paste track. What is interesting about Lowery 66 is their ability to substitute instruments while still creating the same rhythm. The fiddle in "The Broadsides Beat Us Down" sounds like a lead guitar in places, but the song doesn't quite get off the ground. The harmonies during "Artifacted" recall the Band, as does the track's arrangements in certain areas, making it the album's sleeper. A wall of guitar bubbles just below the tight pop rhythms creates a definite source of tension. A fragile performance makes "Florabama Requiem" extremely pleasing in the vein of Young's Harvest Moon album. It also has traces of Tom Petty's "Southern Accent" within. "2 a.m. Keys" hits all the right notes and tempos, a laid-back and reflective pop song that grows and gets a harder and crisper sound as it goes along. "I don't want to make excuses and I know I've had a lot," Troutman sings over organ, accordion, fiddle, and guitar. Given the quality of this impressive debut, no excuses are needed.

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