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The Picketts

The Wicked Picketts – 1995 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by The Picketts

What does it say about the world when a group that grew out of Seattle's alternative rock scene can come up with an album more enjoyable to a country purist than almost anyone in Nashville? The Picketts have an authentically retro sound to their music, yet are difficult to niche. It certainly isn't honky-tonk music. Nor is it quite genuine rockabilly, even though there is plenty of both rock and billy. Christy McWilson has a very fine voice for this style, effective on the rockers and on a country ballad like "Wishing" as well. She can even make a Yoko Ono song ("Walking On Thin Ice") palatable. Malevocalist "Blackie" Sleep sounds like an "alternative rock" guy doing country, but that works in the relatively limited role he's given.

The Picketts come up with some very good songs, many of which they write themselves. And just to keep everyone off-balance, they toss in an instrumental version of "Sukiyaki" that's half-Dick Dale, half-Duane Eddy. Original highlights include the rollicking "If You Love Me" and the country "Can't Take It With You." Easier to listen to than to categorize, The Picketts are one of the most interesting acts around.