Sunday, December 06, 2009

Music Decade List #16: Old Crow Medicine Show - O.C.M.S. (2004)

Bringing back the acoustic string band sound could be hard to do without it being seen as either ironic, cheesy, or too indebted to the sound's traditional roots. Old Crow Medicine Shoe manage to do none of this on their excellent self-titled album, produced by David Rawlings. The group manages to mix traditional songs with their originals that would appeal to any traditional bluegrass fan but also managed to cross over to the jamband and roots rock world. That rests mostly on the strength of one song, 'Wagon Wheel', which I guess I would pick as the choice track of the decade. A great road song with fantastic vocal harmonies and fiddle, it should have been at least a Country hit (if Country Radio wasn't filled busy playing shitty rock music with fiddles). It would be a disservice to the band to say that one song may the band as the original material is strong and sounds very much like the traditional songs they cover. They can handle up-tempo barn raisers ('Tear It Down', 'Hard to Tell') as well as slower material ('Poor Man', 'Trials & Troubles'). The band pulls this off because they aren't being ironic in the least and truly have an enthusiasm for the music and the history without being too reverential. Maybe the greatest compliment I can give the album is that it seems to have found a new, younger audience for the classic string band sound. The energy and enthusiasm that the band has that comes through this album is nothing but infectious.

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