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June Star record release show at Windup

July 5, 2013

image_1101175You’d think that today’s kids would be savvy enough to know about the “20-year rule,” which says cultural styles come back into fashion every twenty years or so, and thereby avoid it. But it’s hard to turn around without bumping into a “grunge”-influenced  band of twenty-somethings.  Roomrunner’s Ideal Cities comes with the promo-sticker tagline that cheekily reads: “Yes, we’ve heard Nirvana. Try harder,” to which a reviewer might equally-cheekily respond, “So have we. You try harder.” (Since the album doesn’t sound much like Nirvana to me, the snark remains hyopthetical).

So, here in the Strum und Twang department of nostalgia, we did start wondering why none of the young bands are yet bringing back the great alt-country that began when Uncle Tupelo’s 20-year-old albums that mixed the same punk songs that influenced Nirvana with Buck Owens instead of the Beatles. Partly, it’s because all the country kids are still caught up with Old Crow Medicine Show and the whole new folk revival thing-y that seemed like a novel response to alt-country ten years ago.

But, maybe we don’t need young kids to bring that shit back when there are old-timers (I don’t mean it as an insult, but more like dudes of my own generation) who are still playing like that. Which brings me to the point of this post: June Star, who have been plugging away at making original alt-country sounds since the 1990s, has a kick-ass new album, Kill the Lights, and are playing a release show at the Windup Space, Sunday night July 7.

Their last album, Slow Dance, came in third for our favorite local folk and country albums last year, and we like Kill the Lights even more. The first song, “Foreign,” kicks off with a quiet country lick and then explodes into a Replacements-like power-chord chap. Singer and primary songwriter Andrew Grimm’s vocals are both rougher and stronger than ever in their Jay-Farrar-like mix of country high-and-lonsesome twang and rock ‘n’ roll angst.

The hooks also find that right combination between between country and rock. The pedal steel and the power chords on “Surprise Collapse” make me wonder why there aren’t more youngsters lined up at June Star shows stealing licks.

But, if the kids are subject to twenty-year rule, old heads like June Star don’t worry about t he trends that come and go. They just keep making great music and having fun and wait for the times to catch back up with them.

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