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American Folklore: Skyshivers

American Folklore: Skyshivers

Label:Firecracker Firecracker
Release Date:2009
Genre:Alt-Country, Singer/Songwriter (Rock/Pop)
More info on local act

American Folklore

American Folklore plays the Charm City Art Space May 29. For more information visit

By Michael Byrne | Posted 5/27/2009

Maybe it's not enough to write bared-soul lyrics--sometimes you've gotta go full bore and write bared-soul music. Don't blunt it with polish and pose, let it be as ragged and pocked as it feels. Calvin Johnson, Phil Elverum, and Adrian Orange have worked this idea to excellent effect, delivering thoughtful, imperfect indie-folk tunes that manifest as a sort of holistic half-ugliness. Well, that K-punk family could be considered to have a satellite outpost in Taneytown with the solo folk project American Folklore.

The defining element that separates this--and, the K family above, frequently--from "adult" singer/songwriter folk (Dar Williams, say) or nostalgic indie-friendly folk (Jim White) is punk, or at least its recklessness and honesty. There's a reason you're more likely to see American Folklore at Charm City Art Space rather than the 8x10 or other havens for dudes and guitars.

The first thing that stands out is AF sole proprietor Lucas Rambo's wavering, uncertain and uneffected vocals. And, hate to play the "sounds like" game, but he sounds just like Adrian Orange (of Elverum protege and Thanksgiving fame), e.g. adjustments made for better or worse in the space between microphone and lungs are about nothing. The instrumentation is mainly an electric guitar--in every mode from beach chill to gritty rock shred--and ramshackle, busted-up drumming. Song modes veer just as wildly from radiant instrumental vibration ("Traffic") to breathless punk-rock tear ("Sword in My Side") to the album's other sword song, "The Blood on the Sword," which piles itself into a frantic stack of reversal effects and misplaced guitar notes before easing out into an uneasy duel between smoldering, brooding guitar and comfortably awkward, tastefully uncooked singing.

E-mail Michael Byrne

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