The Ware River Club

The Bad Side of Otis Ave.

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A kind of Massachusetts-based supergroup composed of former members of several notable and not-so-notable indie and major-label bands, the Ware River Club sounds as if these musicians woke up one day and said, "screw it -- let's just get together with some good buddies, drink a few beers, and jam." Whether or not that was the actual turn of events, the results are gloriously rambling, unaffected and rootsy. Eight of the eleven songs here were written by singer/guitarist Matt Herbert, and most are low key ruminations on small-town monotony, self-doubt and failing relationships. Many of the tunes are colored with subtle touches of dobro, pedal steel, banjo and mandolin, all of which perfectly compliment the material's consistently pensive feel. The remaining songs, all standouts, are by ex-Sighs guitarist Matt Cullen, who contributes some soulful lead and e-bow guitar work as well. As an added treat, excellent basslines are provided throughout by Ray Mason (the "Godfather of New England rock," who also leads the Lonesome Brothers and the Ray Mason Band). Although The Bad Side of Otis Ave. is the band's first album, the Ware River Club has the loose-but-tight feel of a group that has been together for many years. Every tune is imbued with a gutsiness and intensity that often recalls obvious alt-country touchstones Uncle Tupelo (particularly their Anodyne album) and Steve Earle, but also Let It Bleed-era Rolling Stones and blues-folkie Greg Brown.

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