The Hillary Step

Jupiter Coyote

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The Hillary Step Review

by Stewart Mason

A jam band beloved from Berkeley to Boulder to Asheville despite their rather naff name -- which sounds like the name a writer from The Simpsons would give a hippie-ish, Americana-infused jam band for satiric purposes -- Jupiter Coyote have distilled their sound to a certain kind of perfection on Hillary Step. Unfortunately, perfection is not necessarily a virtue in the world of jam bands, a genre where spontaneity is prized above all else. There are very few spontaneous moments on their eighth album, just one three-and-a-half to five-and-a-half-minute mid-tempo pop song with occasional bluegrass and country touches after another. There are no extended improvisatory segments -- even the nearly eight-minute closer, the lovely and mostly acoustic "Fade," never really cuts loose -- and the self-produced album has all the gloss of Hootie & the Blowfish (unsurprisingly, Darius Rucker makes a guest vocal appearance) and none of the excitement that a truly great jam band is supposed to generate. The admittedly catchy "Falling" is tailor-made for AAA radio stations in vegetarian coffeehouses throughout the college towns of the land, but settling for being the Spin Doctors when you have it in you to be a southern-fried Phish is just sad.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Jupiter Coyote
blue highlight denotes track pick