Yonder Mountain String Band - self-titled

Yonder Mountain String Band
Yonder Mountain String Band


First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2006, Volume 13, #5

Written by John Metzger


Even before the music begins to play, it’s clear that Yonder Mountain String Band has taken a different approach to its new, eponymous endeavor. For starters, it has shifted its business outlook by moving from its own label to the more comfortable confines of the Welk Music Group. Rather than joining Sugar Hill, the company’s bluegrass wing, however, Yonder Mountain String Band opted instead to have its recordings issued via Vanguard, Welk’s pop-oriented subsidiary. In addition, Tom Rothrock — who has worked with Elliott Smith, Foo Fighters, and Beck — was brought on board to produce the self-titled affair. Therefore, it ought not to be a surprise that, with its blend of electric guitars and drums — the effort is a complete departure from everything that preceded it.

Although banjo and mandolin still figure quite prominently within the group’s music, it is abundantly clear that Yonder Mountain String Band has its eye on reaching a much broader (and larger) audience. Both the arrangements and the harmonies are tightly knit, and the collective’s newfound emphasis upon melody pushes its songs ever closer towards radio-friendly, mainstream-minded fare. Atmospheric echoes of U2 envelop the opening Sidewalk Stars, while How ’Bout You? offers a hybridization of the Dave Matthews Band and Son Volt. Elsewhere, the group submerses itself within the southern-fried textures of the Charlie Daniels Band (Angel), and frequently throughout the self-titled endeavor, it imbues its folk rock with a mixture of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and New Grass Revival. There’s no question that beneath the surface of its material, Yonder Mountain String Band’s bluegrass heart still beats with a vengeance, but while its rebirth as a pop-oriented outfit isn’t always successful, its growth and maturity are readily apparent. bulletbulletbullet


Of Further Interest...

Elvis Costello - Momofuku

Railroad Earth - Amen Corner

Son Volt - The Search


Yonder Mountain String Band is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2006 The Music Box