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Scud Mountain Boys

Massachusetts – 1996 (Sub Pop)

Reviewed by Eric Zehnbauer

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CDs by Scud Mountain Boys

On the Scuds' latest, they reveal where there true musical direction lies. Although definitely having some country influences, the sound is similar to that of Better than Ezra or R.E.M. in their mellower moments. They also display their country influences, evoking memories of Gram Parsons, the Jayhawks et al on tracks prominently featuring traditional country instruments such as the mandolin, lap steel, and pedal steel guitar ("Big Hole" and "Van Drunk"). The tempo is rather slow and laid-back throughout. Vocal duties are shared by Joe Pernice and Stephen Desaulniers, and though each has a soft voice, the vocals sound very clear, unhindered by the instrumentals. The pair harmonize well. It's refreshing to hear singers can actually convey the feeling of the songs through their voices, without competing with guitars.

Production is excellent, allowing the listener to hear the subtleties of each of the instruments with the overall feel here acoustic. This is not the kind of album to crank up at a party, but it's a great listen in the right context.