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Mail the Horse

Planet Gates – 2015 (Sexual Decade)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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In the late '60s and early '70s, guys like John Fogerty, Mike Nesmith and Richie Furay were exploring the demilitarized zone between rock and country and finding that the two genres worked together pretty well, particularly when they drifted from an equal blend toward either end of the spectrum. Nearly a half century later, Brooklyn, N.Y. by way of New Hampshire quintet Mail the Horse has found a good deal of success covering the same territory while narrowing the sonic distance between extremes.

On their sophomore full length, "Planet Gates," Mail the Horse bristles with the indie rock adrenaline that typifies their NYC surroundings while working a freewheeling twang and bash into their presentation. On "Fool the Fire," the quintet offers up a hard-edged tenderness that could pass for Chuck Prophet in a John Lennon state of mind, while "Flowers, Keys & Gasoline" and "Wasted Sex" shake and stomp with the kind of fist-shaking authority that the Rolling Stones invested in their early country diversions.

Because Mail the Horse has closed the gap between their indie rock and country ambitions, the gear shifts are less jarring than with other bands that predominate in one area and dabble in the other. When MTH dials up the Crazy Horse guitar scuzz on "Drink Your Health," they make sure that the pedal steel is similarly accentuated, resulting in a true and exhilarating country/rock jam, while "Dorothy" could be taking cues from Lou Reed and The Strokes as much as Gram Parsons.

Anytime country music takes root in an urban atmosphere, it naturally reflects the vibrancy and nervous energy of that environment. Mail the Horse understands the elements that comprise their home and their sound and write and perform to their many strengths with an almost casual brilliance.