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The Pawtuckets

Rest Of Our Days – 1998 (Madjack)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by The Pawtuckets

Real syntheses of country and rock music are pretty hard to find; more often, what's billed as a hyphenated sound is basically rooted in one style, with touches from the other applied as coloration. The Pawtuckets, though, seem to have discovered the secret of making music that's genuinely synthetic - and genuinely good.

Starting with the opening "Blackberry Winter" to the closing, title track, the Memphis-based band weaves together strands of roots-rock, country and R&B to create an exciting collection which starts from, but doesn't simply imitate, some of the characteristic sounds and attitude of influential bands like Uncle Tupelo and its offshoots. The band's lead singer Mark McKinney has a reedy buzz to his voice that's reminiscent of Jay Farrar's, and some of the compositions echo those alt.-country forerunners in their chord patterns, but the band's judicious use of keyboards, solid harmonies and general tightness set them apart from many of their contemporaries. From the country-flavored "Set Up" to the r&b-ish sway of "Too Far Gone," with its syncopated bass line and Stax-like guitar, open-minded fans of roots music will find this satisfying. (Memphis Soundworks, 901-278-8855)