Warren G. Hardings Find Signs of Life on Their Latest Release

The Warren G. Hardings, Get a Life (out now, self-released, thewarrenghardings.com)

Even the most casual music listeners carry certain preconceptions when they first throw on a record. But music (and art in general) is often best when it casts aside staid notions of what it’s supposed to be, which is exactly what this indie-pop bluegrass group has done here. The musicianship, especially from banjo player Steve Werner and fiddler Lee Callender, is down-home, Kentucky-style bluegrass played at mind-numbing speed with dead-on accuracy. The tunes, however, fit more in the mold of the Death Cab for Cutie or Shins songbooks. The best examples of this marriage are “The Devil’s in the Roots” and “Post-Suburban Recession-Era Blues.” On this latter track, lead singer Dave Zelonka seems intent on bucking traditional bluegrass themes with the constantly repeating refrain, “Don’t need a girl, don’t need a dog/Just wanna watch hockey and have a day job.” Get a Life doesn’t go completely against the traditional grain, though, with a couple of genuinely great songs such as the funeral dirge-like “Anonymous Waltz” and the cheerful, folksy “What Can I Say.” Fitting classic Americana musicianship into a modern pop form is fraught with peril, and in lesser hands could be a disastrous mashup. The Warren G. Hardings have found a way to walk the line between both worlds that provides a unique and enriching listening experience. (May 14, Capitol Cider)

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