November 28, 2013

CD Review: ‘Hard Stuff’ by The Burners so easy to have fun with

The gyspy/Americana band puts 10 completely entertaining and engaging songs on its new EP.

By Kristin Dicara-McClellan

Do you want to hear some good music? No, I mean REALLY good music? Then, stop whatever you’re doing right now and go buy The Burners’ 10-song EP “Hard Stuff.”

Courtesy photo

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HOW IT RATES

THE BURNERS, “HARD STUFF”

****

Produced by Ryan Flaherty

– Based on a four-star scale

This band plays gypsy/Americana that is flavorful, complex, authentic and spicy. Sometimes I read the description of a band’s “genre” and it just sounds plastic to me, like they have some cognitive grasp of what the notes should be, but there is nothing breathing life into it. The Burners are what they claim to be, and there is undeniably no forcing it for them. Everything about these tunes sounds completely natural.

The Burners is a band deserving of its name. The title track immediately sets the tone with a fiery and aggressive attack. This is the kind of music that makes me happy to be in this position.

These players not only show a great deal of respect for their instruments, but also for you the listener by jumping in with everything they’ve got and never looking back. They appreciate those precious first few moments of an impression and they own it with a verve and a tenacity that is rare.

There is not a trace of lackluster to be found anywhere in this music.

Even as the tone of the collection changes after a few songs and becomes darker and mellower overall, The Burners manage to really capture the haunting quality they seem to be after at every turn. It drips with atmosphere and mood.

I suppose this is a place where I should be talking about the amazing guitar technique on display or the monster bass skills to be heard, but then that is to ignore the awesomely ghostly harmony work or the very cool violin and mandolin and so on.

Sure, we can dissect it and anywhere you listen there is more than enough to satisfy your ears, but this is really an experience we’re talking about here and the experience is simultaneously a throwback to a bygone era of gypsy-grass animating the air; a thoroughly engaging and entertaining 35 minutes of musical drama as well as the perfect example of what happens when great musicians find each other.

It’s the holy grail of every band to find something “larger than the mere sum of its parts.” The Burners have cemented a cohesive sound for themselves. Clearly, they know who they are.

Even if you’re not a big fan of more exotic styles of our musical heritage, this is a band worthy of a listen, regardless.

Kristin DiCara McClellan is a Portland freelance writer.

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