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The Harmed Brothers

Better Days – 2013 (Fluff & Gravy)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by The Harmed Brothers

When you come across a band like The Harmed Brothers, whose new album "Better Days" strikes such an immediate impression, it further reinforces the notion that indeed, there's a lot of great talent lying latent in the heartland, primed for discovery. Their third album in as many years, it also underscores the uncertainty of why bands this good can remain unknown to the world at large. Whether chalked up to lack of promotion, the enormity of competition, radio's refusal to accept new talent or simply a malaise due to public indifference, the fact that The Harmed Brothers haven't achieved the popularity of, say, The Avett Brothers or The Lumineers remains as baffling as it is frustrating.

It's not that The Harmed Brothers - who, by the way, aren't brothers at all, but simply a midwestern quartet comprised of four like-minded musicians - are pushing any envelopes. Their earnest, good-natured vibe is honest and inspired, devoid of posturing and pretence. Unassuming to a fault, their rambling, banjo-plucked melodies make songs like When You See Me,Love Song for the Assumed, Better Days and Sky Cracked a Smile a model for sweet yet sturdy sentiment. And while the Avetts could be considered a role model - and an able one at that - the occasional hint of Jackson Browne informs some of these tracks, the low cast Never Went Away in particular.

Admittedly, The Harmed Brothers aren't going to set a new standard or redefine the norm, but the fact that the new album manages to sustain its consistent quality with such a steady sway makes this band especially worthy of watching.