The O's - Between The Two [Album Review]
The O's, a Dallas based duo comprising Taylor Young and John Pedigo, continue the recent trend of blurring the lines between country, folk and rock 'n roll with a sound reminiscent of the Avett Brothers without the occasional screaming vocals.
Produced by Grammy Award winning Stuart Sikes (Loretta Lynn, Cat Power) at Elmwood Studios in Dallas, TX, the music of their sophomore album Between The Two (Idol Records, 2011) is based around Young's guitar strumming and Pedigo's banjo picking. The recording leaves enough space to sound sparse, but adds the appropriate flourishes of pedal steel, harmonica, bass drum, accordion and slide electric guitar to fill in the sound scape nicely. The short, punchy stripped down pop songs do not try to over reach and focus on the songwriting craft rather than stretching out into unnecessary extended jams.
Both members are multi instrumentalists as Young plays guitar, bass drum and vibes while Pedigo plays banjo, tambourine, Lowebro (acoustic lap steel) and harmonica and both handle the vocals. In the band's bio on their website the band tries to address their unique sound -
Well, we sweat too much for a folk band, drink too much for a pop band, and rock too much for a country band. Our music lies somewhere in between. Like the feeling of standing on a rooftop and singing an old Louvin Brothers tune at 4AM... Or shifting from buzz to beep.
The bouncy beat of the mid-tempo album opener "We'll Go Walkin'" reels the listener in and the sing-a-long chorus of "come away with me" simultaneously invites you on the journey and provides the hook to keep you listening. Pedigo provides a bluesy harmonica solo and some riffs and harmony vocals
Young incorporates a large, marching band size bass drum to pound out the beat of "In Numbers We Survive" while strumming his guitar as Pedigo picks out the melody line on his banjo. Tuned low, the bass drum plods along in a thundering marching 4/4 beat evoking the mood of an acoustic dance floor filler mixed with a Civil War drill favorite.
The country ballad "We Are Young" addresses the feeling of a couple getting older yet feeling much younger than their actual age. The duo sings "We are young and we will always be as long as our love grows" which becomes a metaphor for their music. With a basis in many different American genres, the duo mix their influences into a sound that is part Appalachian folk mixed with classic country with a rock 'n roll underpinning and attitude. A growing trend becoming more fashionable it seems as each year passes.
Songs like "Tryin' To Have A Good Time" (listen to the track here) and "Everything's Alright" kick the album into full on party mode as the Young's fast paced strumming and bass drum push Pedigo's quick banjo picking or lap steel playing that makes the listener want to add their vocals to the harmony mix. Those that saw the band's performance at Off Broadway in February 2009 may relate.
Released on iTunes on January 18, the physical record release date for next Tuesday, February 8. Idol Records plans to release the album on vinyl LP (w/ a CD for download), compact disc and even a limited edition 8 track version signed by the duo. The band will play an in-store performance at Good Records in Dallas on February 8, and a Valentines Day party for the Dallas based Eight Track Museum. After these few shows in the Dallas area the band hits the road and travel to the U.K. for a short 11 day tour in February and come back for SXSW dates in March. Details still remain unclear about further dates in America, but the band has blocked out March 31 to April 10 for a short Midwest tour. For St. Louis, let's hope that they make another stop in front of the red velvet curtain at Off Broadway to showcase their new batch of songs!
Between The Two track listing
- We'll Go Walkin'
- Wrecking Ball
- In The Numbers We Survive
- Tryin' To Have A Good Time
- We Are Young
- Time For A Change
- Pushin' Along
- Tennessee Coalminer
- Remember You
- Everything's Alright
- No Troubles Left At All
Here's a video of the band performing a cover of the Everly Brothers "Bowling Green"