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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Hearts of Oak

New England

Review by Gary Hill

This act has been described as “shoegazer country.” I can’t argue with that. Let’s say, though, that the sound varies quite a bit from track to track and some of it is nearly pure country music. This is an intriguing set. The biggest issue with it is the vocals which are a little hard to take sometimes. Still, it’s part of the charm, I think.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Used to It

Alternative pop merges with folk and country on this piece. Somehow there is a bit of an acoustic blues feeling here, too.

Goldmine
With more energy, there is a lot more country music in the mix here. The slide guitar is classy and this is very much a country meets folk number.
Trouble Your Mind

In some ways, this is similar to the stuff we’ve heard to this point, particularly at the start. This gets electrified, though and works into some great crunch rock territory. It is quite a soaring, but slow moving, arrangement a lot of the time.

Lovers Ain't Easy
Back into mellower territory, there is quite a bit of psychedelia here. It’s still quite connected to everything that has come before, though.
Grey Riders
Acoustic Rolling Stones almost seems a valid reference at times here. There is very much a country meets pop rock element here.
New England
I love the atmospherics on this one. It’s another slow moving piece set in the same kinds of textures. It just has a little more magic as far as I’m concerned.
Wants You Close
Folk and country with some psychedelia in the mix is the concept on this one. Of course, that’s not a huge change. It is, however a good number.
Tunnels
Although it’s still low tempo, this is a more powered up piece. It’s a rock styled number, but not as crunchy as “Trouble Your Mind.” This is one of my favorites here.
Well Lit Highway
Musically this hard rocker is one of the best tunes here. It has some space rock elements and works quite well. The problem is the vocals which are a little hard to take at times. Still, the instrumental section late makes up for any shortcomings, making this a great song to end the set.
 
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