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Jolene

Into the Gloaming – 1998 (Sire)

Reviewed by Roy Kasten

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CDs by Jolene

About as far from country music as they are from their press kit's pretentious comparisons to "fellow North Carolinians Walker Percy and Michael Jordan," Jolene is a rock band with an identity crisis. Their debut had some very real moments of sublime pop, and one moment of effecting country folk vision, the lovely, acoustic "Float Plane Journal."

But hobbled by a fashionable Gin Blossoms jangle crunch sound, the record had no soul that it hadn't borrowed, no sense of clear direction. Their second effort is pure guitar-based, alternative rock 'n roll. It's innovative when it needs to be, as in the eerie piano and cello sounds on "Exhibit (World Disturbance)"; aggressively atmospheric on "Begin 1000" and "Old Mexico"; samplified on "Two Sisters and the Laureate"; and pure poppy on "Pull the Weight Virginia."

But if expecting even a vague trace of country music from this band that you've heard mentioned in alt. country circles, you'll be disappointed.