Country Mice – Twister

Rating: ★★½ · ·

You don’t tend to think of Southern rock when you think of the musical influences of New York City, but that doesn’t seem to affect the kids in Country Mice.  They’ve been building a name for themselves slowly, and Twister has the band poised for bigger horizons.  It’s a little scattered here in there, in regards to over all sound, but don’t let that be a detractor, as there are really special moments inside.

When “Ghost” breaks into its stride to begin the record, those of you who’ve listened to the few singles from the band might be surprised to find a heavier version of what you remembered.  Sure, there’s those sprawling country effects, but it’s definitely a heavy-handed song.  “Festival” takes hold of the same theme, and if anything, it steps up the Southern rock repertoire even more.

Just as you thought you were getting a feeling for the band, they offer up what is easily one of the best songs on Twister, if not one of the best of the year.  The vocals of “Morning Son” seem distant, as if Justin Rueger recorded his vocals from the back of a barn.  Still, there’s this rolling movement to the song, guiding you along, as if following a trail through some wooded land.  And, this is the ground where Country Mice seem to be so comfortable.  “Rabbit on a Leash” follows a similar pattern, though you’ll find this number fueled with various guitars cutting back and forth across the background of the sound.  It’s the simple country approach, and in that, you’ll find joy and comfort for during your listening.

Despite its softer moments, Twister, definitely can’t escape the leaning towards alt-country and like-minded Americana outfits.  “Clover” is an example of a track that seems to wear the influence of My Morning Jacket.  It’s not quite a rocker, but it has the influence of bands that have come before Country Mice.  It’s a good song, but not one that is exceptional, which may weigh on the ears of the listener.  It leads right into a bit of a misstep for the band too, as “Worn Hearts,” a track that seems to venture too far into the pop-country medium for the liking of most.  But, they return with the very pleasant “Bullet of a Gun,” showing that they still have what it takes to win over any listener, crafting another joyous moment that culminates in a rise and fall melody.

So you come to the end of Twister, and my bet is that you’ve found several tracks that really stood out, whether you like your Southern rock or your more country-balanced pop.  That’s the good and the bad about Country Mice, at least up to this point in their career.  They seem to be walking the line between the two, and those two are vastly different, but that’s a decision we can expect to see the band make as they come more into their own.  Let’s label this effort a good starting point, with great moments, and hope there’s more to come in the near future.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/countrymice_morningson.mp3]

Download: Country Mice – Morning Son [MP3]

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