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Frog Holler

Couldn't Get Along – 1998 (Zobird)

Reviewed by James Mann

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CDs by Frog Holler

The debut album from Pennsylvania's Frog Holler sounds like a lazy afternoon of porch music, if played by Crazy Horse or The Replacements. The bands motto, "The Song Is King" is amply demonstrated here, with 19 well-wrought tunes driven by chiming guitars or driving banjo. The record mixes moments of pure country twang and distorted crunch guitar well, at moments in the same song, neither side overshadowing the other.

Songwriter Darren Schlappich has a keen ear for phrase, such as "this here is life in Bluebilly county/Where no one is ever well read" from "Bluebilly County." It's moments like this, world weary and cynical, but open and honest at the same time, that make this disc special. Not to mention humorous "Possum," an apology to the wife of a roadkill critter, that is both sad and silly. Guitarist John Kilgore addsseveral well-written tunes too, the best of which, "Another Shoeless Joe" makes the infamous slugger an analogy for love.

This is a band that could play with Marah one night, Norman Blake the next. At over 71 minutes, this is a lot of good music. Fans of Son Volt and "Train a Comin'"-era Steve Earle will find plenty to like here. (Zobird, P.O Box 0006, Virginville, PA 19564)