Published Jan 01, 2006Despite the allure of rocknroll rebellion ubiquitous in our hearts and ear canals, one of the uncool secrets to sustaining a good band is to have a lot of internal rules. Old Crow Medicine Shows are as follows: stick loyally to a plucky Appalachian, pre-Harry Truman sound with as much imagination, energy and pathos as possible (which somehow elicits a weird been-there nostalgia that is technically impossible in anyone born after 1935). Despite the skill this four-state, five-piece, 24-string outfit bandies out when the sonic popcorn starts exploding here, the eponymous discs secret weapon is actually the frequent show of slow Dustbowl tunes that worm in with the queer and lazy attitude of Palace Music. The mid-tempo opener, a traditional Southern lament, pulls up evocatively with pleasing banjo and harmonica, and throughout we get some very sweet, not too nasal bluegrass harmonies, plus every kind of string instrument you can shake a porch at. Particularly worth mentioning: Ketch Secors intoxicating fiddle. Produced simply by Gillian Welchs right hand David Rawlings, O.C.M.S.s closing "Wagon Wheel is as good as Dylans, with overall playing of scratch-less Smithsonian sounds that could make grandma hit the dance floor again, dead or alive.
Right off the bat you guys are singing the woes of cocaine. Have you had a lot of experience with fierce narcotics? Secor: Geez, thats a hard one. No, were a healthy bunch of guys. Weve had some experience with all that stuff enough to know that six years after the fact, that lifestyle just doesnt fly. You cant focus on getting fucked up all the time. Its a lot like being a boxer. We learned over time. I mean, we used to make corn liquor back in the old days.
You dont embrace cell phones or digital technology, either. Im talking on one, but I had to borrow it. The things that are inspiring to me are the things that are ancient, the things that have always been around. I dont get turned on by gadgets, I get turned on by life and death and love and loss and religion and faith and fear and the elements.
Old Crow is often inaccurately credited with "punk energy. Why isnt "bluegrass or "old-timey enough? Its not my first choice. Ive had to answer questions about punk rock for a long time. Weve got this frenetic kind of energy that only exists in a couple of genres. It doesnt really exist in country anymore, so people are more likely to point out the pop elements. Were really hoping to work on a greater musical template. (Nettwerk)