on September 9, 2004
The music of OCMS is not traditional old-timey or bluegrass music, you might call it Alt-grass to describe the harder edge and rock sensibility they bring to this genre. Regardless of the name you give to their music, OCMS is a *great* album. I agree with the earlier reviewer who said this album is an excellent bridge for people who are new to bluegrass music. My twenty-something son saw the band on Conan and downloaded this album that night.
I recently saw OCMS in concert (opening for Gillian Welch) and they were on fire. I bought their earlier self-produced live album at the show and I gotta say, I like this studio record better. Their songwriting has matured and their instrumental virtuosity takes a backseat to the song itself. Hightlights are "Big Time in the Jungle", "Wagon Wheel", and the rollicking "Tell it to Me".
There isn't a bad track on this entire CD, buy it and enjoy the talents of these wonderful young musicians.
on April 15, 2005
These guys will awe you. It was so good that I couldn't help but to laugh in spite of myself. The music and energy they projected was incredible. I saw them a couple of weeks ago at a show in Tennessee. It was a private farm, rolling hills, thick tall timber. I had no idea what was in store for me. They ripped up the front porch of that farmhouse with melodies and sheer, uninhibited enthusiasm. Wave after wave of mind blowing tunes, punctuated by the delight of plain old unselfconscious getting down, blasted me to a new level of musical appreciation. They were broadcasting that night, not with a weak radio antenna, but with music. You couldn't get with earshot of the porch without feeling a buzz. That was some powerful stuff.
The night couldn't have been better either, cold with a huge bonfire, a blanket of stars, and the best group of friends you could ever hope to be around. No one was a stranger. Who could have been, really? I kept thinking, where was the rest of the world? Did they know about this? And if so, why weren’t they here? What do I have to do to get more? I'm hooked, I'm a junkie. I need my next fix.
I feel I was let in on something that night, something very special. Standing around the bonfire, a guy told me, "A ray of light follows these guys." And I swear it does. If you can't see it, feel it, taste it like the twang from tinfoil in your mouth, then your dead, that’s all there is to it. They will lift you and you won't come down for weeks, perhaps a part of you never will.
Buy their CD, get a taste, because that's all it is, a sip. Go to the source and sate yourself, there's an abundance. Thanks Old Crow, I'll see you at Jazz Fest.
Old Crow Medicine Show is derivative, there's no doubt about that. We plainly have five boys who discovered they loved bluegrass and decided they wanted to record some of their own. They aren't mountain children. But we can see that by looking at the cover photograph.
What matters is that they have singled out the best of modern bluegrass to imitate, and they have imitated it with confidence and skill. They're not trying to play their banjos like guitars or making other mistakes I might make in their shoes. Their selection of classic bluegrass tunes, like "CC Rider" and "Poor Man," show they're familiar with the sound of classic mountain music. And original songs like "Big Time in the Jungle" and "Wagon Wheel" blend well with the classic material while still moving the group forward as artists.
An astute listener will spot this for a debut album in a minute, but it's a strong debut full of promise and a show of strong skill. This is No Depression music, and it has chutzpah. If only real country radio would play it, we'd know what it is to have a pop style stand for something again.
on January 7, 2006
I can tell you that these boys are worth the price of a cd. I eat lunch at least once a week at the place where doc watson discovered these yankees so you can trust me when I say that these guys are the real deal. Cut the derivative talk... if Doc says they are cool than no one else has a say in the matter...
on August 22, 2006
The editorial review above of this band is on target. OCMS' sound is inspired by traditional music (the pre-curser to bluegrass and somewhat less gimmicky). What gives it life is that it has been infused with the influences of a bunch of young guys, i.e. punk, blues, rock, country, rap, etc. It's what gives them their unique energy and style. It's what makes the old mountain songs sound new and fresh and what makes their brand new stuff sound like old mountain classics. My favorite is Tear It Down, mostly because it makes me laugh.
Rawlings has taken them to another level. While I miss some of their rougher edges, overall their evolution as a band has been very satisfying.
To the reviewer who claimed "Wagon Wheel" is a rip off of a Dylan tune: Yes, you are correct. However, OCMS contacted Dylan's reps to get his permission to use the tune and they got a green light. So while it's a rip off, it was never intended to be a secret theft as much as a tribute to one of the best songwriters of our times.
I miss the rawness of the live shows of their earlier career. It was brilliant. They are still highly energetic, just a bit more seasoned and polished. Some of the old intimacy with the audience is gone, and you may have to fight with inebriated college students for a space. Still worth it though. Besides, who can complain when Rawlings and Welch show up to play along!
I absolutely loved this album and it is an album, unlike so many cds now that are just a string of totally miss matched musical tracks. I picked it at random for the record store and couldn't stop listening to it. It is original, while still being so entrenched in what makes bluegrass great. I do not listen to a lot of bluegrass or country normally sticking more to rock and punk, but that really is not a problem here. The vocals and energy of this album wouldn't be out of place in any good punk or rock band. If you love bluegrass, buy this album. If you love rock, buy this album. Hey, if you like to be suprised, buy this album.
on April 28, 2006
Here it is: This is the kind of music that feels like it always was inside of you, but you never knew where it was, until you turned off this highway down this tarchipped road and before you knew it, you were in the pines thinking of how your grandmother used to look smoking winston 100s in the kitchen of her trailer, which sat on a half acre of land not far from Swallow Falls, Maryland, and inside, there's the memory of the rumble of the Conrail trains that used rock on by, a rumble that's warm and sad and good all at once, and so you stop among those pines just to take a break and breath the air.
on August 7, 2006
I bought this album not fully knowing what to expect...the fact that the song "Wagon Wheel" blew me away was enough for me to buy it. The album contains some very strong materials (my favorites being the last 3 tracks). I don't really care what category their music is classified under, all I know is it makes for a very enjoyable listen!
on February 13, 2004
Unbelievable. I just found out about this band and thought it was worth the risk, because, lets face it, the contemporary state of bluegrass is pretty boring, aside from a few really good artists who have been around for awhile. Nobody was exploding onto the scene. Until now. I'm about to graduate from law school in PA and only a couple years removed from UVA, and I can tell you, the southern college scene, and maybe the national college scene, is ready to embrace music like this. This is bluegrass with passion. The ballads are steeped in emotion and power, the way the Carter Family use to warble until it made your hair stand up on end. CC Rider is done with knowledge and care, like old time legendary classics should be. But then they give something to it that its never had. The rave ups are the best, and deservedly so, will get the most attention. "Tear it" has the best speed harmonies I've ever heard. The original composition "Tell" is awesome as well. But the last track is the strongest. Some of these songs are better than Man of Constant Sorrow and deserve airplay. These guys were meant to play together. You couldn't get a better combination of vocal styles and harmonies by two front men if you scoured the countryside looking for it. I love the Stanleys, JE Mainer, and Monroe, these guys, at least on this album, sound right up there with them to me (I know that's a strong statement, but I said THIS ALBUM only). This album, at least I think, is a classic. But only time will tell. If you are new to bluegrass it will turn you into a fan instantly. If you're an old fan, come into it with an open mind like I did, and you will be shocked at how smart and traditional, as well as new and raw these guys are.
on December 27, 2004
This is an unbelievably tight CD. I've been sliding more and more into Bluegrass, Old-Timey, and Outlaw Country music over the last decade or so and I've been rather worried that once the older generation of these great musicians pass on then much of the music would pass with them.
Not any more...
The original tunes ("Big Time in the Jungle", "Take 'em Away", "Trials and Troubles", "Hard to Tell", "We're All in this Together") and the renditions of the traditional and older fare ("Tell it to Me", "Poor Man", "Tear it Down", "Hard to Love", "CC Rider", and Dylan's "Wagon Wheel") blend seamlessly and I listen to the whole CD from start to finish, and then start it up again.
The power of "Big Time in the Jungle", written by Critter Fuqua, is tangible, even more so when you learn that it's based on the real life experience of an Eutaw, Alabama, resident, "Flukie Fluker" in Vietnam. Fuqua's "Take 'em Away" also captures the difficulties of everyday life and survival, especially for the poor farmer. Each of the songs, original and traditional, are equally rich.
If you have even a little itch for good Old-Timey music, this CD and O.C.M.S. definitely provide the scratch as talented musicians, vocalists, and as song writers.