Album: Water Tower Bucket Boys – Catfish on the Line

If you don’t like Bluegrass then you might as well stop reading now.

Hello…(hello)…(hello). This here internet sure has a mighty big echo when it gets empty. Well, since you’ve stuck around I’ll keep on reviewin’:

It’s tough to know what to say about an album so different as to fall very easily in the ‘novelty’ bucket of the music world. What I can say is that I don’t think this is a novelty at all; I think that four young chaps have taken some music that they grew up listening to and made it their own.

These guys aren’t singing coming down from the mountain but a bluegrass, country highbred enlightened with their own experiences. There’s no singing about illicit stills and running from John Law – but there are lots violins and banjos.

They learnt their trade busking on the streets of Oregon and there is a certain element of that intensity which comes from having to grab people’s attention and earn a quarter very quickly. Its really tough to take that into the studio and get it across but in ‘Catfish on the line’ the Boys have succeeded, mainly by limiting production values (by design or otherwise…).

Having said all that, song titles like ‘You Smell Weird’ almost invite a novelty, “Seasick Steve” comparison. But the songs are suffused with fun throughout (betraying the bands origins as a dance band) without giving the unbeliever enough cause to find them funny. Clearly, these guys take music pretty seriously and don’t measure artistic merit as a lack of guitar strings.

A couple of standard songs (including a dull version of classic ‘I’m blue, I’m lonesome’) show the doldrums of the genre that the band are trying to break out of. The next album is trailed to be entirely original – a bold move in the very staid world of American folk.

The Boys are touring the UK in August and I bet its one hell of a show. I’d have my ticket booked for the 8th if the Old Duke did advance sales. 

Words: Paul Malloy