BARK HIDE AND HORN-“National Road”

Bark Hide and Horn call themselves a “four-man folk-rock orchestra,” and that’s a great term for them. Their songs are all busy, all big. Take a look at the bandmembers, and you’ll get an idea: Dusty Dybvig plays drums and other percussion; Andy Anderson Furgeson is on guitar, vocals, harmonica, violin, banjo, and pedal steel; Brian Garvey plays the mandolin, keyboard, synth, trumpet, saxophone, trombone, percussion, and sings; leaving Peter Valois to play the bass, vibraphone, vocals, glockenspiel, penny whistle, and, of course, percussion. Lots of instruments here, lots of percussion. It leads to a sound similar to Califone, only busier, or like Calexico, only somewhat less country. Songs like “Grandfather” start quiet and folky, and end up sounding like Sympathy for the Devil. Each song has a tendency to stop on a dime and veer off in a completely different direction, leaving the listener grasping for purchase. It’s music for the multi-tasker, for the modern listener who isn’t satisfied by a single genre (or even just two or three genres). It’s dynamic, versatile, fun, unbalanced, demented, uneven, unpredictable . . . And well worth a listen.

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