The Upshot: A record that conveys an old timey sense of respect while breathing new life into the contemporary bluegrass genre.
BY JONATHAN LEVITT
Left Coast Country are a bluegrass band hailing from Oregon. Now for some, that unlikely geographical/genre combo might seem sacrilegious, sort of like that old Pace picante commercial where the men find out the salsa was from New York City, and they grunt, “Get a rope!” Well, I’m here to tell you bluegrass lovers that these gentlemen are every bit the real deal. You can smell the whisky on their breath and hear the road weariness in their voices.
Fans of groups such as the Dan Tyminski Band will find a lot to love on this record. The harmonies are sweet, and the playing is a claw fist lover’s delight. The musicians get the balance right between some real dust-ups and the moodier numbers that fall in the second half of the record.
The title track “Pines Fly By” is a song that captures the moment when you’re staring out of your pickup making your way to the next show with nothing but a ribbon of interstate in front of you. “Bus Driver,” meanwhile, is one fine song that rides that fine line between country and bluegrass. Plenty of heartstring pulling and some savory fiddle playing makes this number a real standout. And “Sweetgrass” is a beautiful instrumental showing off such well-honed chops that the listener can imagine it being played during a Prairie Home Companion intermission.
There’s plenty to rave about on this record, and I’ve just touched on a few songs to get you going. I’m sure that live, they must put on one hell of a live show. Music like this is hard to do well, and mediocrity in bluegrass seems the norm these days; which is why I am grateful that Left Coast Country have created a record that conveys an old timey sense of respect while breathing new life into a genre that can seem caged in an O Brother, Where Art Thou prison.
DOWNLOAD: “Bus Driver,” “Sweetgrass,” “Burnin’ Old Pictures of You,” “Pines Fly By”