In the Kitchen

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Unlike many jamband-derived bluegrass outfits like Yonder Mountain String Band and String Cheese Incident, Chicago's Cornmeal don't dilute the goods with too much emphasis on rock, jazz, or other idioms -- at least, not on disc. The nine songs - eight originals and one cover - on the band's debut album, manage to nail the high, lonesome old-tyme sound without giving in too much to the post-David Grisman fusion-jazz histrionics of newgrass that dogs the energy of the aforementioned groups. None of this is to say that Cornmeal are party-line traditionalists, either. Lyrically, the band engages in contemporary - or, perhaps, just silly - topics on tunes like "Dirty Rag" and "The Boy and The Scientist." Meanwhile, "Monorail" cutely contains a subtle musical reference to an episode of The Simpsons. Though the themes are a little adult, the approach, at times, seems pretty similar to the kinds of fun folk songs for kids championed by Pete Seeger. The music is on-point (if decidedly not virtuoustic), the harmonies are decent, and the record is great fun.

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