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Wrinkle Neck Mules
Pull The Brake
Roundhill Records/ Shut Eye Records

Ever on the quest for the next alt. country band to pique my interest, I was very excited to be introduced to Wrinkle Neck Mules. Their sound lies somewhere between alt. country and newgrass music, containing elements of both, but never weighing in too heavily on either front. Banjos and stomp rhythms steer the songs towards their bluegrass kin, while distorted lead guitars and rock bass lines keep the music's feet firmly planted in modern music. Writing songs that easily shine with private experiences interpreted for the listener, Wrinkle Neck Mules' music comes across as deeply personal and soulful, at times complex and alternately simple, but always full of deep emotion.

"Liza" kicks the album off in dark, country stomp style… but the telltale banjo helps to carry the tune along its meandering pathway. The song is brilliant, and a fitting introduction to the band that is fast becoming one of my favorite new groups. "Okeechobee" sounds like Jay Farrar gone Appalachian, the vocals taking on a lighter and twangier flavor, while the music also loses it's darkness, opting for a rather light bluegrassy roll. "Eyes Down" gives back a bit of the gloom, with more electric guitar lines and a more melancholy feel overall. The band is back in full swing on "Sugar & Sunshine", with a thick sonic palette in play and guitar lines lifted from Hank Williams, Jr. records, but backing it all up with the brilliant banjo playing of Chase Heard (no relation to Mark, I would assume). "Light Of Day" falls into a more honky-tonk-closing-time style, with bleeding pedal steel and a slow groove that reminds of Son Volt once more. Bonnie "Prince" Billy makes a guest appearance, singing vocals on "Lowlight". This song is a deeper, darker affair than much of the album, with heavy drumming and dense layers of guitar that create the perfect backing for a song of such great beauty and depth.

If you've found yourself listening to Son Volt and Frog Holler a lot lately, and wishing for some other band to widen your listening taste a bit, then Wrinkle Neck Mules is certainly a good candidate. The songs are solid, the playing is great, and the feeling that I'm left with after the record is definitely wanting more.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Liza
2. Okeechobee
3. Dust Of Saturday
4. Eyes Down
5. Sugar & Sunshine
6. Light Of Day
7. Lowlight
8. Strangers/Sojourners
9. Weeps
10. San Gabriel
11. Push The Pedal
12. True To The Vine
13. Mecklenburg County
14. When Things Unravel
15. Put Your Guitars Where Your Mouth Is

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