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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl
Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl
727 Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

October 1, 2004
It's always interesting to hear about musicians and bands being described as products of a "scene". A "scene" can be and is often defined differently by different people, but most would agree that bands springing from the same scene are often very similar in sound and style. Pretty obvious, right? So it's even more interesting when a band comes out of somewhere not known for a "scene", doesn't hail from Seattle or Williamsburg, or even Omaha for that matter. Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl, Derrick Ross and Amy Ross, are perfect examples of the originality and inventiveness that can come out of ignoring scene trends and instead, simply play music.

Hailing from Bisbee, Arizona surely must of helped the duo filter out the dance-punk permeating both coasts as of late, allowing the two to come up with a beautiful mix of retro American folk tunes. Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl's self-titled debut opens with a subdued organ backing the question "Do you believe in anything at all?" First thoughts concerning the duo may be that this is yet another sad singing and songwriting affair, mixing and matching alt-country with more traditional folk leanings and a few far-flung left field influences. That's not far off. But what elevates Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl above the masses is Amy Ross's voice, which sounds a little like Martha Wainwright's and, curiously, a less histrionics-prone Tori Amos. With abundant lyrical imagery focusing mainly on birds, peppercorns, and wildflowers, Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl remains strongest when the duo is sounding a little melancholy. Spooky funeral organ helps set the tone, as does the skillfully strummed guitar. The exception to this is the song "Please Die". Instead of sad minor chords, it's a poppy number, with tinkling honky-tonk piano and a hooky chorus. There is that haunting organ sound on the bridge, but overall, it's the most upbeat song here, title notwithstanding. "Vinyl" is very reminiscent of the aforementioned Miss Amos, but to the bands credit, the song also highlights the fact that Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl seems to be operating in some strange land where it is possible one might still "dance the lindy alone".

Nothing on the album suggests that Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl has been tainted by the going-ons and trends in the rest of the music world, though "Dirt In My Mouth" and "Asleep At The Wheel" would be at home with other artists hanging out in Lilith Fair territory. "Bottle Rockets" has a light "Girl From Impanema" feel, complete with claves. It not only shows off the range of Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl, it's also entirely unexpected, and indicative of the album as a whole: solid, and unpredictable without feeling scattered.

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