Paso Mino Good People

When you're recreating Neil Young, there are a few directions you can take. You can make epic, sorrowful country rock songs (Magnolia Electric Co.), you can mimic the feel of a crowded bar where you make merry despite the tear in your beer (Toronto's fabulous Jon-Rae and the River), or you can dabble in both. Paso Mino choose the third approach, using a simple pop blueprint. Good People (recorded at Andy Magoffin's House of Miracles studio) has all the ingredients of good alt-country, with pop inspirations figuring as obviously as Gram Parsons recapitulations. The simple, bittersweet balladry is as earnest as it is lovely, and the pop influence is just as much an asset and an eclecticism, as it is a summons to indie rock fame. Though their adherence to convention occasionally plunges the album towards tedium, there are moments of near brilliance — "Factories and Beer," for instance, ends beautifully with trumpets and slide guitar harmonising in waltz time. It's a shimmer of greatness, and the kind of material that could easily gain Paso Mino acclaim if they keep at their game. Though the album is unfalteringly pretty, songs at times begin to bleed into one another. Fortunately there are unique flourishes throughout — Steely Dan inspired solos, playful background vocal additions that, if played up, could distinguish and hone the band's sound. Good People is very good, and I imagine that in time Paso Mino will be great. (Independent)