The Benders - Mountain Radio
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Mountain Radio (Pig Pile, 2003)

The Benders

Reviewed by Rick Bell

The Benders' origin is something of a familiar story - guys from several bands get together on their off time as a release valve to pick acoustic music.

And like other bands - most notably The Knitters - the Benders have turned their part-time passion into a full-blown act. Their latest album is a catchy blend of folk, country and bluegrass, except they don't fall back on standards. Jabe Beyer, Bow Thayer and Nolan McKelvey handle the songwriting - all are originals - that play into the title's "O Brother Where Art Thou" old-timey, backwaters theme. Dust-choked backwoods road songs are weaved in with McKelvey's "35 Acres," a trippy sort of jam about the amount of land needed to build a permanent circus. The quartet hails from New England, but their music defies the stereotypical loafers-and-denim folky bluegrass. "Cheers to the First Snow" is as close as it gets, but "The Great Tear of Josie & Ed" is vintage Dillards and "Can't Wait to See You Again" has the bouncy feel of the New Grass Revival at its country-bluegrass best.

This being their third album, they took their time recording it - a whole week. That's a marathon compared to their first two records, both clocking in at a single day in the studio. Imagine what these guys could do if they devoted their full attention to the Benders.




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