Album: Blue Giant
Release date: July 13
Rating (Skip, Stream, or Buy): Stream
Download: "Gone For Good"
When Conor Oberst went from angsty indie to twangy country, he sounded ridiculous in foreign territory. But when Kevin and Anita Robinson of the psychedelic Portland rock duo Viva Voce expanded to become the rootsy country quintet Blue Giant, the transition seemed much smoother. The Robinsons have roots in their blood, originally coming to the Northwest from Nashville by way of Alabama. Their new self-title full-length is a collection of full and folksy songs deeply steeped in the blues.
The album opener, "Clean the Clock," has a grand and energizing melody; "Blue Sunshine" is tinny and foot-stomping. But the mellow country thing gets a little tired and unimaginative all too quickly - a bulk of the honky-tonk songs on the record are too cyclical and too similar to each other to maintain a whole album's worth of interest. The band should focus on writing more simply emotive songs like this album's standout, "Gone For Good" -- the track features guest vocals from Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker, pretty harmonies and slide guitars, and a plaintive chorus. Beautiful, and no country twang or rollicking required.