Horsehead – Sympathetic Vibrations

Emerald City Sounds

Go ahead – reel off your favorite alt-country/Americana/whatever-you-want-to-call-it albums of all time … the seminal statements of the genre. What would be on the list?

Son Volt’s Trace? Whiskeytown’s Faithless Street? Hollywood Town Hall by The Jayhawks? Wilco’s A.M.? Whatever the albums are, what about them grabs ahold of you? Smart lyrics and a stone-real delivery? A haybale punk vibe? Garage pop crossed with Exile On Main Street-style cellar funk? Twanging crunch? Crunchy twang?

Here – have some of all of the above. World, meet Horsehead. The album is Sympathetic Vibrations – their fourth – and I humbly offer it up as being real and good and raggedy and right.

Sympathetic Vibrations delivers – name your poison, bucko. The album enters softly with “Moving Target” – just Horsehead principals Jon Brown and Kevin W. Inge (the self-proclaimed “Dimmer Twins”). Brown leads the way on vocals with acoustic guitar in hand, while Inge infuses the tune with wisps of keys and lovely pedal steel. By the way, it’s worth noting that the frigging guy – Inge – basically taught himself pedal for this album. If you’re not familiar with the beast’s workings – foot pedals, knee levers, ten strings and all – then Inge’s accomplishment might be lost on you. Trust me – there are folks who’ve been pickers all their lives who wouldn’t dare get near a pedal steel in a recording studio. Inge may be a rookie steeler, but he handles it like a seasoned pro, adding washes of sparkle amongst the grit on “Get Up” and putting the thing on full stun for “Spinning Your Wheels” with a slightly raspy-voiced tone that is absolutely beautiful.

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