Tenderhooks

Vidalia

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    7
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Knoxville, TN-based Tenderhooks comes from a long tradition of accessible power pop groups playing tuneful, guitar-based songs. Big Star, Dwight Twilley, and the early R.E.M. all come to mind, and there are plenty of other similar bands. Lead guitarist Ben Oyler comes up with fresh parts to distinguish the songs, however, and he provides harmony vocals along with bassist Emily Robinson to support lead singer Jake Winstrom, who sings in a high adenoidal tenor occasionally reminiscent of Loudon Wainwright III (though not as whiny) or even Edie Brickell. Winstrom and Oyler's songs are full of personal observations that never get too bitter and can be witty ("I try to write an anthem, it comes off like a tantrum"), and Winstrom remains appealingly earnest as a vocalist. This is the sort of music that seemed to have popped out of a '60s time capsule even when Big Star was making it, and yet it is timelessly enjoyable. Tenderhooks does vary the formula by rocking a little harder now and then, giving them more of a jam band sound on occasion, and they also break out the acoustic guitars for more of a country-rock sound. But for the most part, the beats bop along, the guitars chime, and the hooks abound, and there's nothing wrong with that.

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