Back City Woods’ “Around The Bend”

Back City Woods returns with ‘Around The Bend’, a strong follow-up to their 2011 release ‘The Dirt From Which We Came”.

Sean Pritchard

out of 10

Back City Woods
Around The Bend

Back City Woods has returned to follow up their 2011 debut, The Dirt From Which We Came, with an excellent example of blended parts of folk, bluegrass, and Southern roots that not only succeeds in avoiding the current niche of folk-pop that string bands have fallen victim to, but somewhat restores my faith in the genre. That being a very biased statement based on my own personal feelings about said genre, BCW put serious thought into this release and it paid off. Around The Bend, recorded in Athens, Georgia at Chase Park Transduction (Tom Lewis, Richard Salino, David Barbe) and fully funded through by fans through their Kickstarter project, is a product of a new(er) band with a much more refined sound – bluegrass that doesn’t give you the urge to “paddle faster”.

“Chains”, the EP’s opening track follows a traditional bluegrass format, with a rolling upright bass line complimented by rag-time, bar room piano and stop/start lyrics that lament on particular weights of the day-to-day. “Chains” is by no means the record’s strongest track, but offers an open window to following songs.

My personal favorite of the release, “Three Word Sound”, breaks loose like a horse from the gates. A blistering banjo/fiddle lead – that I cannot wait to hear live – is backed up by lyrics that refrain back to the “Three Word Sound”, and all the things that come with it. This is a dancing and drinking number that eventually peaks in a almost Balkan-esque chant. The track is bold from start to finish and touches on each of the members playing strengths, but the fiddle takes the spotlight, leading into the EP’s title track, a rolling anthem that I could easily imagine on a number of college stations around the state.

“Heart of Stone” is rich with harmonies and layers of vocals and gives a nod to the Walden-era works of ABB, closing out in a solo that does not intrude, nor fall short of accomplishing its purpose. Around The Bend‘s final track, “Hardcore Truckin” is again a more traditional number, but the drum work and dissonant break down at the end saves the song – and album – from closing out on a boring note.

Back City Woods have had definite growth since their last release, and while elements of the album linger at the realm of becoming too traditional, this EP provides an accurate picture of a band that is finally comfortable with what they’re doing. I’ll be eager to see what actually is around the bend for these guys.

You can catch them at their release show tonight (2/1) at The Hummingbird Stage & Taproom in Macon. Tickets are available at the door (10:00pm) for $5.00. Check out their site for other upcoming shows around the region.