The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank: One for the Time Capsule

On the whole, the Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank deliver what you might expect from a band carrying such a conspicuous moniker. Titles like "Gold in the Hills," "Old Coal Train," and "Brakeman" grace previous efforts The Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank Sing! and their eponymous debut. Throughout their catalog roam tales of travel, stories of home, and all manner of backwoods melody driven by chain-gang-workin'-on-the-railroad rhythms. Released this month, their latest EP comprises outtakes from these albums and, for true fans, a new studio track.

One for the Time Capsule opens with a mellow, instrumental groove smacking of something Pink Floyd may have done while vacationing in Tupelo. The production value, as on most of the EP, is low-frills and dry, but it works well with this heavily organic genre. Ian and Teague—the brothers Alexy—excel at channeling that old-timey mono-radio sensation into their modern music. Listening to tracks like "I'll Get Back to You" or the harmonica-infused "Happens All the Time" (a new track recorded at Rough Magic Studios in Brooklyn, New York), it is difficult not to imagine a bearded, overalled George Clooney miming T-Bone Burnett.

The Hobos throw in an unexpectedly catchy number in "Ed, You Look Like a Madman," a song written about and partially from the perspective of the family dog; partway through, it morphs into a spoken-word tale about the time Fido mauled a drunken neighbor's leg. The gloomier "Heaven Tries" feels like the biggest departure here, its acoustic guitars and vocals dipped in warm reverb and delay.

While the Hobo Nephews' prior releases may be a safer bet for those first delving into this brand of Midwestern Americana, those already down with the Nephews and their ilk won't be disappointed in this patchwork collection. For those hungry for more fingerpickin' goodness, watch for the Nephews' new studio release this spring.

 
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