The newest release from the Brooklyn-based bluegrass sextet “The Flanks” is something everyone should listen to, and listen to often. Pair of Rosemaries covers a lot of ground, and shifts gears, tempos, styles, instruments, and just about everything else during the thirteen song effort. I thought this was a fantastic album.
So instead of just writing a typical glowing review about how the band honors the traditions of old and adding in a rough and tumble, outlaw feel, all while keeping it fresh and letting the listener know this is new music, I figured I would just plug my earbuds in and write one or two sentences about each track. This way, you can see, line by line, the changes that go on, rather than just assuming they happen because I wrote it. I kept it to a maximum of two sentences per song, which was much harder than I thought it would be. Below the review are links to the band’s website, where you can sample their albums before you buy them, and a youtube clip of them live. If you’re looking for something unique to add to your playlist, look no further.
1) Glass-Bottom Boat: Ok, we have a classic, old timey feel to start things off, with yodel-ay-ee-ho and all. Even though there are six members of the band, at times, it sounds as if there are about twenty, and every one is strumming gigantic loud guitars around a campfire.
2) Pair of Rosemaries: This laid back tune would be the perfect opening the next Cohen Brothers light-hearted western, where the camera pans through the town and ends up on John Turturro and/or Steve Buschemi whittling outside a general store as the song slowly comes to an end. The band also really shows their ability to sing together perfectly.
3) Calliope: As I’m listening to the words, three songs in, I’m realizing the Flanks have a way of addressing the “other” side of love and romance, the kind that is so rarely touched upon in a poetic fashion. They do it masterfully.
4) Shot of Windex: This song has THE best opening line of any song I have ever heard. This is just a good-time, beer drinkin’, pool playing, air-drumming song.
5) Get Your Kneepads On: Slide guitar and great group vocals remind me of sitting around jamming with my friends until the wee hours of the night. Oh wait, that never happened, this song just makes me feel like it did.
6) Alligator Man: At the half way point of this album, as the band kicks in after a great violin intro, and I am transported down to the swamps of the Everglades, then I’m reminded this band is from Brooklyn. How can they paint an image of a place SO far from where they live?
7) Hula Hula Boys: Pretty sure no one out there has heard a bluegrass band sing of heartbreak and love lost while the backing vocals are sung in Polynesian. Just realized THIS song is the halfway point.
8) Shifting Streets: “Beck goes to Bourbon Street” were the first words that I impulsively wrote down about a minute into this song.
9) Low Hanging Fruit: You’ll want to drive down the highway when this one comes on, and with the “rough around the edges” vibe of this album, you’ll want to be driving down said highway in an ’89 Ford with 3-4 people in the bed, a few in the front, and you’ll want to be headed to a ragin’ party.
10) The Divorcee: Another great, laid back number looking at the road to love that is a little less trodden.
11) Spend It All: Now. Now they bust out the pedal steel. It’s like a little treat waiting at the end of the record.
12) Walking’ In My Sleep: A cautionary tale about what can happen to those who do not stay clothed in places they should be. Again, after hearing this, I had to remind myself that I never sat around the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon and played the washboard while eleven other friends also laid it down with banjos, spoons, drums, and guitars.
13) The Starlight Lounge: A nice, slow, dreamy tune to close out a great album. Thoroughly enjoyed every note of every song.
So here are the links to their website a clip of them live.
*The picture at the top was copied from theflanks.com.
Ahem, clickthroughthelinkonthelefttogettoamazon.com, Ahem, oh geez what was that. Excuse me.