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CD Review: Grainbelt 

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KranePool, 2007

Grainbelt was plucked in 2006 from the smoldering wreckage of Coal Palace Kings, impresario Howe Glassman’s long-running, fast-immolating, Albany-based twang-rock outfit. Two of Glassman’s fellow travelers, guitarist Jason Hughes and drummer Tim Hurst, also survived the wreck of the good ship CPK to enlist in Grainbelt, while newcomer Chris Blackwell fills the bass slot with admirable talent and probable foolhardiness. On their debut album, Trouble Coming Down, Grainbelt splits the difference between the pedal-steel-fortified country inflections of CPK, and the more four-on-the-floor, twin-guitar rock stylings of Glassman’s earlier band, the Dugans. All three of Glassman’s main groups have worked an appealingly shambolic vibe. Things continually threaten to fall apart, literally and figuratively, until the pure, delicious American art (and probably some tears and blood and snot) emerges from the rickety spaces between cracks that a more structurally solid outfit might never have revealed. Glassman’s songwriting skills continue to develop, and on Trouble Coming Down, he offers a collection of wise and weary gems that you could imagine either Hank Williams or Joe Strummer wanting to cover, were they not busy pushing up daisies. It’s a little slice of big lonesome. Just right.

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