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Last of the Blacksmiths 

Last of the Blacksmiths

Wednesday, Jul 20 2005
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This self-titled debut album from San Francisco band Last of the Blacksmiths has all the makings of a serious altcountry-substance abuse problem. "Saloon Song" surges and subsides like a night at the local watering hole with your equally down-on-his-luck drinking buddy -- one minute, it's up, dancing along at a jaunty clip, the next it's slobbering over a sluggish organ melody. "Tree Song" stumbles around at a heroin-lethargic pace, teetering dangerously on the edge with lyrics like "Ran right out of your house/ Thinking, why should they die instead of me?" Lead singers Nathan Wanta's and Nigel Pavao's alternating voices trickle through each track like a morphine drip, sounding exhausted and slightly out-of-tune, numbing and blurring the melodies. There are moments of lighter-hearted sobriety ("Columbus Stockade Blues," a nice jam-band-y ramble through the rural territory of Carter Family harmonies and banjos, for example), but for the most part, the Blacksmiths wallow utterly in their enticing, near-lethal altcountry excess, and this is very much a good thing.

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Rachel Devitt

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