Chokecherry: In the Wine Press

With their first full-length, In the Wine Press, Chokecherry bring a wealth of old-timey sounds; the four-piece includes a guitar, bass, violin, and drums, with some banjo and horns added for good measure. The group plays a fast bluegrass hybrid with punk sensibilities and anarchist lyrics. Songs like "Teargas and Whiskey" and "Singing Along to the Radio" are reminiscent of the folk-punk group This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb, especially in the male-female harmonies. But the group isn't just a bunch of bike-riding, bandana-wearing pamphleteers: Chokecherry stays country-first with the laments "Time and Time Again" and "Work Will Never Set You Free," and the violins effectively carry the melodies. If you ignore the lyrics, it is easy to imagine the band playing in a nameless small town.

Lyrically, they wear their beliefs on their sleeve—the Crass font on the album cover is a dead giveaway—and the messages of solidarity mesh well with the old-style country. Despite all the heavy topics, however, they don't always take themselves seriously, mimicking a Whitney Houston chorus on "Every Greyhound Station." Weighing in at 16 tracks, In the Wine Press is mostly upbeat, favoring toe-tapping hoedowns over tearful ballads. Chokecherry somehow straddle the line between sorrowful country and cheery pop-punk, and the authenticity behind the twangy vocals and weepy violins is indisputable, regardless of the uniform the musicians may be wearing.

 
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