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Split Lip Rayfield

Should Have Seen It Coming – 2004 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Split Lip Rayfield

It's been six years since their debut, so the novelty aspects of Split Lip Rayfield's composition aren't nearly as novel as they used to be, but they're still wickedly interesting talking points; guitarist Kirk Rundstrom doing double duty in alt.-country screamers Scroatbelly as well as SLR, mandolinist Wayne Gottstine's blazing speed, banjoist Eric Mardis' other job as a death metal guitarist and Jeff Eaton's legendary gas tank basses, strung with a single weedwhacker cord.

The problem with all these quirky resume entries is that they often obscure the band's flawless sense of songcraft. For a band with so many diverse musical experiences, SLR's four individuals come together with an incendiary bluegrass fury when they reconvene the band.

This showcases the band at their absolute best; the songs display SLR's incredible range between kneeslap humor ("A Little More Cocaine Please," "Redneck Tailgate Dream") and tearjerk heartbreak ("Honestly," "Promise Not to Tell") or the space between the two ("Just Like a Gillian Welch Song"), and the band steams and stomps on this studio set with all the ferocious energy of their stage presentation. If you're looking for bluegrass with an edge, like Del McCoury in leather and biker tats, Split Lip Rayfield has the punkass grass you seek.