Artist: Water Tower Bucket Boys
Produced by: Water Tower Bucket Boys
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Bluegrass music is an acquired taste. There are those out there who think bluegrass and country are the same thing. Iím here to tell you that some bluegrass may be considered country, but not all country can be considered bluegrass. Thereís something about the sound of bluegrass that attracts me. Maybe itís the instrumentation - the banjos and fiddlesÖthings we donít hear a great deal of in mainstream music. Maybe itís the quality of the singingÖthe harmony. Whatever it is, I was excited when I was offered an opportunity to review Sole Kitchen, the latest album from the bluegrass band known as the Water Tower Bucket Boys.
Hailing from Portland, Oregon, the Water Tower Bucket Boys started out playing bluegrass on street corners, eventually honing their sound into something quite welcome at square dances and bluegrass festivals up and down the west coast. The trio - Kenny Feinstein on guitar, mandolin, harmonica and vocals; Josh Rabie on fiddle, guitar, harmonica and vocals; and Cory Goldman on banjo, guitar and vocals - decided to take their sound one step further, mixing the bluegrass with a little cajun, punk rock and blues. The result was a unique sound that fans of bluegrass had never heard before. The trio found themselves touring internationally, recording four albums and performing along with such well-known acts as Mumford and Sons, Wilco, The Red Stick Ramblers and more.
Having never heard the Water Tower Bucket Boysí music before and realizing that this ainít your daddyís bluegrass, I wasnít sure what I should expect. The first song, Crooked Road, weaves a tale of a young man learning about the wonders of moonshine for the very first time from an old pro. The song starts off slow, with guitar, fiddle and banjo cranking out a honkytonk sound. Then things crank up and you want to jump out of your seat and dance, singing along with the song as if youíve known it all your life. This is that unique style the Water Tower Bucket Boys bring to every single song on this twelve-track album.
The music of the Water Tower Bucket Boys is spot on - perfect bluegrass amped up a notch. The lyrics are catchy and often times funny. Each song has a story to tell, whether itís that young man learning about moonshine, or a man whose lover has left him or wonderment at the mysteries of heaven. What may need a little tweaking is the singing. Depending on who is singing when, there is a tendency to be slightly off key. Whenever the trio sings together, they harmonize extremely well, but when you listen to the track entitled Telegraph and compare it to tracks like Crooked Road, Bread and Since Youíve Been Gone, you realize that whoever is singing Telegraph is a bit off.
Whatís great about this album is that it doesnít just have songs with lyrics. There are two tracks that are basically great jam sessions you will find yourself tapping your feet and clapping your hands to, if not outright dancing along with. The first of these is London Breakdown, a rollicking good time complete with banjos and mandolin kicking out a fast-paced ho-down tune. The other musical track Blackbird Pickin' At a Squirrel features just one line about a blackbird eating a dead squirrel, but that gross picture is lost in a fun and fast-paced square dance song featuring fiddles, banjos and guitars.
I had a whole lot of fun listening to Sole Kitchen from the Water Tower Bucket Boys. As I said, bluegrass takes an acquired taste and if you donít like bluegrass, you have no business listening to this album. Sole Kitchen is bluegrass at its best, an album that is bound to have you tapping your hands and stamping your shoes after the first listen and singing and dancing along with the songs after the second. Oh, and speaking of people who are not fans of bluegrass: after listening to the album twice, I played it for a friend who has no real interest in bluegrass, but is usually open to new music. She was hooked after the first track! Sole Kitchen may just be the album that launches the Water Tower Bucket Boys to the top of the bluegrass scene!