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The Cash Brothers | Phonebooth Tornado (Four Chord)
Championed by Loose Records and possessing the inordinate good taste to have dedicated a song on their last album to Springsteen's masterpiece Nebraska, Toronto's Cash Brothers weigh in with this hard-to-find limited availabilty second album of breezy alt.country and Byrds tinged pop. They are undoubtedly aided by their ringing two-part sibling harmonies, gorgeous and crisp as an unexpectedly sunny autumn day. Both brothers have the kind of pleasant, yearning Americana voices that are instantly evocative of lonely night-time highways and abandoned petrol stations in the desert, signs flapping in the wind. Starting with the laid back post-Jayhawks pop charms of Uh Huh (co-produced by Hawksley Workman who also plays on the album) Phonebooth Tornado is nothing if not consistent. Things sometimes steer into AOR territory (the bone crushingly repetitive Journey) or off-kilter alt.country (the record's best song, This is How Birds Fly) but by and large the album is filled with mid-tempo, bruised guitar, plaintive voice, lost love ballads and this isn't such a bad thing. You Know The Way (featured on this issue's compilation) could stand up equal with any beer-stained, broken-heart offering from Wilco or Whiskeytown and it's the latter whom the Cash Brothers most resemble. Over the course of a whole album it can all be a bit too similar and it would have been nice if there were a few different textures on display; some of the songs just aren't strong enough and tend to get lost in a whirlwind of repeated choruses - but, at their best, The Cash Brothers have a lot to offer those that like their alt.country dashed with more than a shot of melancholy and are still mourning the demise of Whiskeytown and the original Jayhawks line-up.

Stav Sherez
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001

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