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Acoustic Syndicate — Rooftop Garden (2013)

 Acoustic Syndicate — Rooftop Garden (2013)

USA Flag    Acoustic Syndicate — Rooftop Garden
◊   North Carolina's Acoustic Syndicate consists of vocalist/banjo player Bryon McMurry, vocalist/percussionist Fitz McMurry, vocalist/guitarist Steve McMurry, guitarist Roger Padgett, bassist Jay Sanders and flautist Gaines Post. The group formed in 1992 and released two albums regionally, including 1998's Tributaries; their self-titled album received national release in 1999. Their third release, Crazy Little Life, followed a year later.
Location: Asheville, North Carolina, United States of America
Album release: September 3, 2013
Record Label: Little King / Little King Records
Duration:     56:24
Tracks:
01 Heroes     5:47 
02 Coming in from the Cold     5:58 
03 King for a Day     6:06 
04 Forward     6:10  
05 Hourglass     5:32 
06 Memphis Girls     4:46  
07 Bicycle Song     5:22  
08 Rooftop Garden     5:18  
09 Song for Me     5:19 
10 Beside Me     6:06
Credits:
  Jón Björn Árnason  Slides
  Jon Ashley  Engineer
  Billy Cardine  Dobro, Electric Dobro, Engineer, Group Member
  Steve Cohen  Management
  Julian Dreyer  Engineer
  Lynne Harty  Photography
  Jeff Knorr  Hammond B3, Piano
  Stewart Lerman  Mixing, Producer
  Dominick Maita  Mastering
  Bryon McMurry  Banjo, Composer, Group Member, Guitar (Electric), Vocals
  Fitzhugh McMurry  Drums, Group Member, Vocals
  Steve McMurry  Composer, Group Member, Guitar (Acoustic), Vocals
  Steve Metcalf  Executive Producer
  Josh Rhinehart  Art Direction, Design
  Jay Sanders  Bass (Acoustic), Bass (Electric), Group Member
REVIEW
By Bryan Rodgers; September 10, 2013; Score: 7/10
◊   During a break from recording and touring, Acoustic Syndicate’s trademark patchwork of bluegrass, rock, jazz, and reggae must have still been evolving somehow. ◊   After semi-disbanding in 2005, the band began playing shows again a few years later. It seemed for a while that playing occasional southeastern shows would be whole of the band’s future. Then, in 2010, new songs began creeping into set-lists and the band began a new era. The culmination is Rooftop Garden, their first album since 2004, and it is at once a fresh start and a continuation of what the band has always done well.
◊   The passage of time, dedication to other interests (family, farming, and software engineering for instance) and newfound musical freedom helped the band create their most personal album yet, which is remarkable. All of the music in their 15-year history has a distinctly human touch, with topics like sustainability, the frailty of existence, love, and community. Rooftop Garden is somehow more immediate because of where the band now finds themselves musically: with no one to please but themselves and an even broader range of life experiences from which to cull material.
◊   The album’s ten focused and thoughtful songs are split between songwriting cousins Steve and Bryon McMurry, but the overall sound is the sum of multiple parts. ◊   Bassist Jay Sanders has been perhaps the most propulsive force of change in the band, and his current rig is more “mission control” than modest. Opening track “Heroes” is buoyed by an undercurrent of his Moog effects. Billy Cardine’s dobro fills the role that saxophone used to occupy in the band, jazzing up the spaces between Bryon’s guitar or banjo and Fitz McMurry’s steadfast drumming. Steve McMurry is, as always, the rock of the band. His magical guitar style and valley-filling vocal work are two of the touchstones. One of the best songs he’s ever written, “Song For Me”, appears late in the album, and it’s wonderfully self-gratifying yet also profound.
◊   The subject matter varies slightly from McMurry to McMurry. Steve tends to keep an “everyman” aesthetic with songs like the jaunty, location-checking blues delight “Memphis Girls” and working-class anthems “Forward” and “King For A Day”. Bryon is a bit more chimerical, offering tunes such as the loping, hopeful “Coming in From the Cold” and the idyllic “Bicycle Song”. In the end, the title track exemplifies the new state of Acoustic Syndicate — a little less country, a little more rock and roll, yet retaining the same endearing qualities of meaningful lyrics, flawless vocal harmonies and singular music. (http://www.glidemagazine.com/)                                                                  / Discography:
•  Acoustic Syndicate (Self-released, 1996)
•  Tributaries (Self-released, 1999)
•  Crazy Little Life (Little King Records, 2000)
•  Live From The Neighborhood (Little King Records, 2003)
•  Terra Firma (Sugar Hill Records, 2003)
•  Long Way Round (Sugar Hill Records, 2004)
•  Rooftop Garden (Little King Records, 2013) © Acoustic Syndicate Cat’s Cradle Show Review

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Acoustic Syndicate — Rooftop Garden (2013)

 

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