One day earlier this summer, in between listening to new music to play on my show and chasing my son around the backyard, I was wondering what had happened to the Greenhornes. I had liked their 2005 compilation of older material, Sewed Soles -- the song “Pattern Skies” lived on my KCRW playlists for quite some time. But there didn’t seem to be any word of new material floating around.
Turns out members of the band have been quite busy, not only serving as the rhythm section for Loretta Lynn’s moving Van Lear Rose album, but also teaming up with Brendan Benson and Jack White for their band, The Raconteurs. If that weren’t enough, bassist Jack Lawrence plays with Jack White’s other project, The Dead Weather, as well. No wonder there hasn’t been time for a new Greenhornes album.
But lo and behold, like a bolt from the blue, they are back with a brand new record for us to enjoy! It’s their first full album of new songs since 2002, and they are sounding tight, energized and full of the classic 60s-era garage rock vibe and Kinks- and Beatles-flavored sounds that drew me to them originally. And I love the album title. It’s called “★★★★”. A bold move (when you say it out loud, it’s “Four Stars”), although the band explains that it came from the fact that it’s The Greenhornes’ fourth album, not necessarily a prediction or ironic snub of potential critical reviews.
But it's fitting on both fronts as this may be the best Greenhornes record to date. The band sounds as powerful as ever, but they also display a more delicate side with songs like “Go Tell Henry” and “My Sparrow,” or even frisky and lighthearted as on the track “Jacob’s Ladder.” There is cohesion to the album that makes it a good listen front to back, whether that comes from having had time away from the band or from the sheer tenacity that a group must have to make a record when they have no label support, no money and live in different states is not clear. But it works and we’re all the luckier for it.
With its delicious instrumentation, pop arrangements, or wry production, the new Greenhornes album feels like a trip home to a place I’ve never been.
-- Anne Litt, KCRW Music Host
★★★★ will be available On-Demand from November 01 through November 30, 2010.
Artist website: http://www.greenhornes.com/
1. Saying Goodbye
3. Better Off Without It
4. Cave Drawings
5. Song 13
6. My Sparrow
7. Need Your Love
8. Left The world Behind
9. Go Tell Henry
10. Jacob’s Ladder
11. Get Me Out Of Here
12. Hard To Find