Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cosmic cowboys

Posted By on Wed, Nov 14, 2007 at 12:00 AM

"Slow down, there's only so much you can do," singers Kurt Marschke and Masha of the Deadstring Brothers gently harmonize on this album's track of the same name. It's one of the more wistful cuts amid the bluesy rave-ups found on the rest of the album. Yet it's also still ripe with the Americana and classic rock tchotchkes that typify this Detroit-London group's "it-ain't-broke-so-don't-fix-it" vintage sound, complete with tinkling upright pianos and sighing Fender Rhodeses punctuating the warm, analog 12-bar progressions. That's why, as the song says, there's only so much this kind of music can do — but that's also why Silver Mountain is so fookin' good and why, in the end, it actually succeeds at doing so much.

"Heavy Load," for example, is an anthem for the west London classic-rock dancehall that inspired the song (and where the D-strings' current line-up came together). And when Masha steps up to lay it down mightily on tracks like "Queen of the Scene" and "Ain't No Hidin' Love," the D-strings turn into something that's almost reminiscent of Tina Turner belting out "Proud Mary." Marschke's not the greatest singer in comparison but he manages to give his songs an everyman quality that rescues the album from being homage to the Gram Parsons-Allman Brothers-Band-Stones references the songs often evoke.

For all the second-hand smoke, though, it's the dirtier ("Some Kind of User"), more spiritual ("The Light Shines Within") and quieter ("Silver Mountain") songs that, for all their feel-good style, manage to find even more substance in the emotions they invoke. Like the Black Crowes and Kid Rock before them, the D-strings have learned how to dip into the classic rock gene pool without drowning in it.

Hobey Echlin writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to


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