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Knife in the Water | Red River (Glitterhouse)
Fittingly for a band named after Roman Polanski's first feature film, there's something sinister going on under the surface of Red River. Take the opener Watch Your Back for instance, a track that seems tender enough to masquerade as a song of devotion, with songwriter Aaron Blount gently proclaiming, "we are so in love that our hearts won't collapse." If you hang in there though, the song's true colours are revealed with the refrain, "if you turn your back on me you better watch your back." These songs are slow to unfold, as instrument is layered onto instrument, and in a similar way their true melevolance only lets itself be known by degrees. Like when the sweet harmonies of Blount and Laura Krause float and mingle to let us know that "meth-amphetamine makes this a beautiful town." It's like someone pointing into the distance with one hand while they dig you in the stomach with the other. The inclination towards dramatic, noir-ish rock is leavened by the light touch given to the blithe collision of instruments, including a gliding pedal steel which remains the one constant whether the band falls into the mode of intense country, or murky pop, or calamitous storytelling. If it's soulful songs of betrayal you're after, then Red River is where you want to be.
CWAS #6 - Autumn 2000