Oh, well that’s cool; give the kid who listens to everything but country a country album to review. Well, you know what? Fine, I’ll do it. I have almost no knowledge to relate this to, but maybe that’s a good thing…
Through a little research, I found that the High Irons were, up until recently, known as Katy Mae. They had built up a following, then changed line up and eventually name. Cool beans. Oh, and they’re from Brooklyn, which makes sense because that’s where the modern country scene is moving to, right? No matter, though, because when it comes to actual songs this band has some serious talent.
When I listen to music there’s always the part of me that focuses on the band’s genre, and immediately decides if it fits in with my favorites or not. I mean, what is new music except a constant comparison to one’s already tried and true? Yet, I find, at least with myself, that it’s important to be objective in one’s listening. A good listener needs to take in more than just the genre, which often in turn leads to hearing good melodies or strong song structure over just judging the genre and moving on. Sure, High Irons aren’t my normal garage rock, but gosh darn they’re good at what they do.
As for sound, the opener “Lovesick Hearts” sounds like Jace Everett’s “Bad Things,” aka the True Blood theme song. “Carolina” comes in with an “Afternoon Delight” coda and goes straight into a great 90’s Gin Blossoms song. The High Irons often cross the line between straight up country and alternative rock. They have more of the former’s vibe to them though, whereas a band like Old 97s is more R.E.M. than Garth Brooks. The song “Message” also has that Gin Blossoms sound, albeit mixed with what sounds like newer Kings of Leon. (Take my word on that one…) There are also strong traces of the Avett Brothers in the singing style, but that’s probably just me talking and not the actual goal of the band, who seem to be roving through as much classic country territory as humanly possible (before updating it and making it their own).
The thing that really plops these songs smack dab in a country boy’s broken heart are indeed the vocals, though. The twang and the guitar tones throughout the record are pure Nashville, and the band as songwriters is solid throughout. Don’t be deterred solely by the country tag, because the High Irons do enough to dissuade you from letting that one fact impact your enjoyment of them. They’re a good band and deserve to be given a listen. If you’re a young urban professional indie rock hipster like myself, I’d recommend starting with “Lovesick Blues” or “Message” before it sinks too far south. Enjoy!