The August List - O Hinterland

by Jim Harris Rating:7 Release Date:2014-09-29

A Brit band that plays Americana? Isn’t that sort of like a Buddhist monk trying to explain Revelations? But the alt-country-hip band The August List, with their new album O Hinterland, make it work all too nicely. With a feisty female singer who sounds like the edgy lost baby sister of Jewel, with longer, whiter legs, two missing teeth, pig-tails, and a STD (compliments of her Uncle Larry), and a male singer who sounds like a cross between Jake Bugg and a young Bob Dylan (as they all try to do) this folky, faux-rockabilly band pull off some wonderful picking.

From the opening ‘Wooden Trunk Blues’, a lament about, of all things, a wooden trunk and its contents, you find yourself in the musical arms of a talented up-tempo rock 'n' roll band with some semblance of a twang attempted. Each and every song is pretty lively and the music is a wonderful mix of acoustic and electric, and reminds me somewhat of Violent Femmes, with their dark lyrics and feisty beats. 

The only thing missing from a Violent Femmes connection is this husband/wife duo don’t appear to have a sense of humor really.  Each song drips with a sort of hokey sincerity, such as on ‘Radiator Song’ and ‘Red Light on the Tower’ and ‘Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow’. A snake in the Eagle’s shadow? That has Oh Brother Where Art Thou written all over it. (Are they vying for T Bone Burnett to produce their next album?)

The August List has put together a highly captivating and listenable collection of well-played, Brit-flavored country-punk. Their label associates the word 'garage' with their sound but I don’t hear any garage anything in their sound. It’s polished, sincere, and rich in delivery. They are a couple of talented musicians, and such a strong track as ‘Cut ur Teeth’ shows just how rich their sound can be.

The only problem I had is whoever plays harmonica plays it worse than I do. Wo. Stick to your guitars and pedal-steels. That harmonica is flatter than a Scottish Aberdeen Angus cow pie. But The August List is a fine and talented new band with refreshing deliveries and great potential. No, you won’t mistake them for Lucinda Williams, but they will give such bands as The Lumineers a run for their money. 

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