It’s a good bet that the popularity of Americana rock band Poor Old Shine has a little something to do with Deer Tick. But while both bands use traditional Americana as a stepping-off point for more rock and pop-oriented sounds, Poor Old Shine are both more punk and more eclectic, with a distinct Irish flavor in places. If you like the idea of O’Death but you find the reality oppressively bleak, Poor Old Shine have anthems for you. Their debut album is streaming at Signature Sounds‘ site; they’re at the Mercury on March 10 at around 11. If you’re going, be sure not to miss noir femme fatale Karla Moheno, who plays her murderously torchy, wickedly lyrical songs beforehand at 10 PM. Advance tix are $10 and since the venue is bothering to sell tickets at all, that’s a sign that the club is expecting a big turnout: you can get them there between 5 and 7 PM Monday-Friday sometime before showdate.
Over a swaying Celtic-tinged bounce, the album’s opening track, Weeds or Wildflowers celebrates living in the moment, banjoist Chris Freeman playing a tune that’s practically baroque under Antonio Alcorn’s plinky mandolin. Behind My Eyes keeps the anthemic Irish feel going, but more mutedly, until the mighty last chorus kicks in. Country Pocket spices up a bouncy, upbeat bluegrss tune with Max Shakun’s piano and more than a hint of a Motown beat – and somehow makes all of it work.
The Ghost Next Door layers elegantly fingerpicked, catchy acoustic guitar and a pensive lyric over lush accordion chords. Punching the Air anchors its hard-hitting, slurry punkgrass pulse with Harrison Goodale’s fuzz bass. A highway rock tune done as bluegrass, Right Now revisits the carpe diem theme: it’s both more gothic and more optimistic, the guys in the band deciding to jump at the opportunity to live on the road. Then they get quiet with Empty Rocking Chair, which is equal parts oldschool soul, John Lennon and Americana pop.
The Hurry All Around builds from a tuneful, oldtime-tinged accordion-and-mandolin pulse and rises to a long, unexpectedly lush, percussive outro: “That automobile made from Pittsburgh steel has taken all the hellos and the goodbyes out of you,” Freeman sings sardonically. The band follows that with the album’s most low-key number, just vocal harmonies and spacious piano with a little guitar ambience. They wind it up with the rousing, ragtime-tinged Tear Down the Stage; if the Band hadn’t approached vintage Americana as tourists, they would have sounded something like this.