Listen Up: Wednesday February 13, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The Americanos

The Americanos (Self-released)

By Ken Shimamoto

You wanna guess what kind of music these guys play? (Hint: It’s not Latin jazz.)

I caught the Americanos live a few months back and came away with no definite impression. Not that they were bad — it’s just that nothing in their set really grabbed me.

So now they’ve released this five-song e.p., and, wouldn’t ya know, it’s quite good. While the combination of soaring bluegrass/Gram Parsons-era Byrds vocal harmonies and grungy Neil Young pickup-truck-stalled-in-the-ditch guitar certainly isn’t new, it sounds surprisingly fresh here.

Fronted by one Chris Gonzalez, these Carrollton boys distinguish themselves from the 10,000 other country-rock acts currently treading the boards by rocking harder and having stronger songwriting sense than most. Unlike loads of their somnambulant alt-country cousins, these guys don’t sound like they’re about to slit their wrists (always a plus), even when Gonzalez is singing about not believing what the voices in his head are saying (“Voices”).

“Georgia” has a nice forward motion to propel its pretty standard tale of gal-as-narrator’s-savior; the rhythm section of drummer Jarad Brown and bassist Tre Doss really carries the load. “Bombshell” is a jangly guitar-driven stomper of the kind Jasper Stone like to throw down. The vocal blend gives an airy sound to this narrative of a fella who’s “just a damn paranoid.” “Waiting on a bombshell,” Chris? Jeez, nowadays, ain’t we all?

Guitarist Travis Harper kicks off “Should’ve Been In Love” with a Replacements-like riff, and Gonzalez tips his hat to Paul Westerberg, the real patron saint of all this noise. “Santa Fe” mixes acoustic and electric textures and features a boss singalong chorus.

I guess next time I hear them live, I’ll have to listen closer.


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