The Goat Roper Rodeo Band “Cosmic Country Blue” (Aveline Records, 2016)

goat_roper_rodeoThis North Wales trio show just what you can achieve with a couple of acoustic guitars, a stand-up bass and the voice of a pinch-faced Kentucky miner’s son. Turns out you can do an awful lot – they sound as though they’ve been pickled in moonshine for generations. The harmonies flow easily, the songs sound like standards, they’re that comfortable, that skilled and as authentic as a sweat-stained sun bleached John Deere hat.

There are a lot of highlights on the record – the closer ‘Hey Chuck’ is a slow melancholic blues song, soft as a comfort blanket. The vocals crawl and drawl across the song, the piano plays a few drowsy notes, the harmonies are leisurely and the song drags itself to quite a height. ‘I Got Room’ is much quicker, lithe, shoe-less and cunning; the pace changes going from threadbare hand-me-down jug band to a chorus that flaunts its sophistication. They have the kind of ease that early Violent Femmes had, a confidence that allows them to play with form. This song ends in a foot-stomping singalong.

‘Old Joanna’ relies more on harmonies. It’s a slower more careful tune with steel guitar billowing in the background with piano and guitar providing light and shade, showing another side to the band who are just as at home with a more raucous sound. The production from Romeo Stodart is cannily minimal, just sympathetically recording these songs with a live to tape feel. It’s a fine second effort from a band who look and sound the part.

Author: David Cowling

Punk rock, Go-Betweens, REM, Replacments, Husker Du, Minutemen, Will Oldham, Smog, Whiskeytown, Ass Ponys but probably most of all Howe Gelb, led me on this journey.

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