Lewis & Clarke Bare Bones & Branches

[Summersteps; 2005]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: slo-core, alt-country, indie rock
Others: Grant Lee Phillips, Idaho, Red House Painters

Let me stop you before you even think it -- this is not the famous duo that blindly trail blazed the American West. It's hard to imagine historic zombies rising from the dead, settling in rural Pennsylvania and recording an album. The picture is priceless, but the music may fall a little flat.

Thankfully, this Lewis & Clarke are far from being undead and the music far from being flat. In fact, the sounds that will emit from your speakers will sound fresh and invigorating. And though there will be no mentions of Sacajawea or the Missouri River, feelings of old west nostalgia may creep into your listening experience. Each track is a ride through the past, whether it's historical or biographical -- depending on the mood you project.

"Doc Holliday Was a Phony" would lend one to believe they're about to hear an abridged tale of the dentist-turned-gambler, when in fact the only tell tale sign of an era gone by may be the slick meanderings of guitar. The song slowly builds to its crescendo, as images of Doc Holliday riding into his next one horse town flicker throughout the brain. Lou Rogai chooses to leave Doc's story open-ended, allowing the listeners to affix their own meaning to each note and lyric. "No Name Disaster" allows the same desolation and desperation to seep out of each pores. The lazy slide guitar and dark melodies continue to produce imagery of ghost towns and gun fights. No mention of the themes present throughout the days of six shooters and cattle wranglers may exist within Bare Bones and Branches, but the sounds conjure up a world only Deadwood has been able to deliver.

An album as richly textured, yet as empty as Bare Bones and Branches may be a little hard to stomach for those not ready for a musical trip into the unknown. Upon the first few listens each song may feel familiar or worn out, but each trip back to the album uncovers a little more to the true mystery. Each go around the bend will yield something unfamiliar and unexpected. Old tricks are made new again with the delicate touch of Lou Rogai's imagination.

1. Bare Bones & Branches
2. Doc Holliday was a Phony
3. Bathtub Blues
4. Underwater, man
5. Bloody Coat
6. Sometimes We Forget to Ask
7. Dead & Gone
8. No Name Disaster
9. Sirens

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