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The Waybacks | Burger After Church (Fiddling Cricket)
With a cover that recalls Neon Parks' work for Little Feat (A 'War Of The Worlds' scenario with massive burgers instead of UFOs) and its jocular title this could be either really good or downright embarrassing. You're almost too scared to find out. But worry not, within a minute or two of spinning this disc you'll be pretty sure it's the former. Emerging from the Bay Area, post-Dead space-Bluegrass revival, The Waybacks have produced a solid, occasionally thrilling and always entertaining album. Not that this is the academic, precision-tooled Bluegrass of the Nu-Grass phenomenon, no, none of that here - this takes the mantle of Jerry Garcia's acoustic recordings with mandolinist David Grisman, using the proficiency and verve of Bluegrass but adding a post-Acid Tests looseness and humour, opening up pockets of space in the music and creating a contemporary sound that should appeal to both purists and stoners alike. Produced by American Music Club Steel player Bruce Kaphan, there's a wonderful spaciousness and clarity to the sound on this recording, totally acoustic, with a dual mandolin lead, touches of fiddle, acoustic guitar and basic percussion create a warm, jazzy soundscape that allows the players to shine. Turkish Stalemate, the first track, is a superb opener, fast and furious, the mandolinists playing clean, intricate complex lines over jazzy changes and rhythms, it propels you straight into the album leaving you gasping for breath. But there's dynamics here too, not everything is breakneck 'Deliverance' riffs. Temporary Cheese is a jazzy, loping piece that quotes the Grateful Dead while sounding like the soundtrack to a particularly savage noir film. Brundlefly is a successful exercise in catch and release and Saltflat Rhapsody is as good as its title suggests. Of the four vocal tracks, Down From Iona and Bright Pace are pleasingly good-natured alt.country swingers, Police Dog Blues will crack you up and the eight minute The Return is a disturbing, pensive folk-tinged piece whose narrative contains some striking imagery and dark deeds. Never slipping into the muso-wank that so many similar recordings fall foul of, 'Burger After Church' is as satisfying as the titular scenario would suggest, dosed with a healthy dollop of humour (and perhaps, psychedelic substances) resulting in a fully balanced meal, the kind you'd give your kids (if they were a little strange.)

Stav Sherez
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002

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