Jason Rueger, the founder of the band Country Mice, was once something of a country mouse himself, having grown up in a tiny Kansas farming community before pulling up stakes and settling in Brooklyn, New York. While that doesn't necessarily explain the band's sound and approach, Country Mice's first album, Twister, doesn't sound much like music from the big city; instead, it suggests an air of broad spaces and understated menace, as if something wicked was lurking on the plains late at night after the townsfolk spent a long day tilling the soil. Country Mice produce an evocative sound out of simple materials on Twister; the careful guitar interplay of Rueger and Ben Bullington fills out the melodies and gives them a clear, rough-hewn personality while leaving plenty of room for the tunes to breathe, as drummer Kurt Kuehn and bassist Mike Feldman hold down the rhythm with implacable strength, simplicity, and subtle coloring. Lyrically, the nine songs on Twister don't sound like tales of the Big Apple, either; between the haunted houses, carnivals, firearms, and failed good luck charms that dominate these songs and the workaday Midwestern twang of Rueger's vocals, Twister is hardly bucolic, but it sounds as country as the tiny town where the Clutter Family breathed their last. As dour as the songs may be, Rueger and Bullington's guitars give them a vitality that's tough but engaging, suggesting some Midwestern variant on Crazy Horse when they crank up the amps, and this album paints a vivid picture of a strange but compelling world in a bit less than 32 minutes. Twister covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, and with any luck Country Mice will have more tales to tell when they cut their second album.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming