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June Star

Songs from an Engineer's Daughter – 2000 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Eric Zehnbauer

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CDs by June Star

Is Washington, D.C. becoming the new hot-bed of alt-country talent? Hot on the heels of a new disc by Sixty Acres, here come their musical brothers-in-arms (as well as sometime stagemates and D.C. neighbors) June Star, with a very commendable self-produced album, brimming with talent.

June Star have cast themselves in much the same vein as Sixty Acres, drawing on classic influences such as Neil Young, Tom Waits, and bluegrass, while further improving on sounds explored by more recent alt.-country artists. The songs span a wide range of the alt.-country milieu from the slow, murder-ballad type ("Teas Summer Nights") to folky ballads reminiscent of the Jayhawks or Wilco ("Tonight") to the Crazy Horse-ish, crunching rock guitar sound of "Faithless." Also in the harder rocking vein, and featuring awesome guitar playing, is the album's best track, "Mountain Top."

Also watch for the hidden 12th track. It's a kind of goofy, almost bossa nova beat number, played on one of those cheesy home organs with the canned rhythm section included, accompanied by outstanding harmonica work. Sounds weird, but it's really quite catchy. The same could be said for June Star as a whole: they're quite catchy and worth watching for. ( E-Mail: juneslick@yahoo.com, 410-751-8983)