Builders and the Butchers @ Bottom of the Hill
The specter of the South may loom large in the songs of the Builders and the Butchers, as do God and the Devil, but the five-piece has its origins much further north. Based in Portland, Ore., each member is a transplant from Alaska. But that doesn't detract in the least from singer and lyricist Ryan Sollee's stark tales of death and other daily tragedies. Likewise, so much grimness in the lyrics is bent to the band's rousing purposes, as the players -- armed with mandolin, banjo, and homespun percussion -- are often lost in stomping, thumping, old-timey revelry.
It's creaky Americana reimagined with an especially dark streak: "Bottom of the Lake" evokes concrete boots, "Down in This Hole" portrays seriously misguided police, and "The Gallows" is self-explanatory. Having put down roots with a self-titled debut, the Builders and the Butchers have recently been riding high on the success of its follow-up, Salvation Is a Deep Dark Well, produced by the Decemberists' Chris Funk. They've officially joined the ranks of Hoots and Hellmouth, Mumford and Sons, and other "and"-loving old-soul folk troupes.
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