Release Date: Sep 23, 2008
Record label: Nettwerk
Genre(s): Rock, Folk
Old Crow Medicine Show are one of the US's most rousing acoustic bands, but they have never captured the excitement of their live shows on record. Their last album was dominated by well-worn oldies and sounded too safe. But here they match their bluegrass and country roots with a fine set of their own songs. Their move from folk festivals to mainstream success is helped by production work from Don Was (of Dylan and Rolling Stones fame), and occasional celebrity help from Jim Keltner on drums and Benmont Trench on organ.
Calling Old Crow Medicine Show a bluegrass band is really a bit of a stretch, since they actually sound more like a prewar jug and string band filtered through Uncle Tupelo than they do, say, Bill Monroe, and the group's attitude and themes are all rock & roll, which gives the band, when it's at its best, a wonderfully fresh vitality with a little bit of wounded cowboy angel pathos tossed in for good measure. Old Crow Medicine Show's previous two albums for Nettwerk Records, 2004's Old Crow Medicine Show and 2006's Big Iron World, were both produced by Gillian Welch's creative partner, David Rawlings, who had an instinctive feel for the group's ragged glory take on what a string band whose members listen to Nirvana could sound like in the 21st century. For Old Crow Medicine Show's third Nettwerk album, Tennessee Pusher, they've elected to go with producer Don Was, who, although he follows the same basic sound template as Rawlings, manages to take the edgy energy of the band down a slight notch, which isn't a good thing at all.
Old Crow Medicine Show dabbles in new prescriptionsWith its self-titled 2004 debut, Old Crow Medicine Show careened to the vanguard of modern bluegrass, largely due to the blast of energy the band brought to the genre. While it makes for an easily flammable straw man to imagine the rest of the bluegrass world as a taxidermy convention of hidebound traditionalists and corny neo-hippie banjo plunkers, OCMS managed to be simultaneously reverent to the genre’s musical form and edgy as all hell. They demanded notice.