The Water Tower Bucket Boys – Sole Kitchen
An indie-bluegrass-folk group hailing from Portland, Oregon, The Water Tower Bucket Boys add a modern twist and a harder edge to the old timey sound of the Blue Ridge. Their new album, Sole Kitchen, released in April is a catalog of progressive square-dancing tunes influenced by the band’s trips to Europe and their time spent on street corners along the west coast as well as by bands like Velvet Underground, Chuck Ragan, Mumford & Sons, Wilco and others making it a mad musical experiment that went right.
Opener “Crooked Road” is a great introduction to Sole Kitchen and The Water Tower Bucket Boys’ sound. This cautionary hillbilly tale about finding a ‘Shiner making Moonshine (“the secret of the hills”) varies in style and pace. Beginning with a Southern, New Orleans jazzy, bluesy vibe that accelerates in the chorus with a barn-burning bluegrass featuring fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and upright bass. In the next song, “Fromage,” the nimble banjo and the old-timey influence does not get lost in the brisk instrumentals. Then, things slow down with an acoustic guitar and a quietly chiming mandolin in “Telegraph.” Instead of drinking white whiskey in the hills of the South, the Boys are hanging out and songwriting about their strange experiences and encounters in Berkley, California. The fiddle-flooded “Bread” and “Blackbird Pickin’ at a Squirrel” are a models of modern square dance tunes while “Since You’ve Been Gone” has a somewhat traditional country flavor. “I’m Not a Stranger” forgoes the blatant traditional bluegrass and country influences and turns to a modern folk with an unusual three-part harmony. Finally, Sole Kitchen closes with the catchy country-folk “Heaven” and is the only song on the album that uses drums.
So, with that being said, The Water Tower Bucket Boys are not your typical folk-bluegrass-roots band and Sole Kitchen exhibits their uncommon and distinctive style. An album with a contemporary rusticity that could be played at any barn-dance or bar from here — West Virginia — to the Pacific Northwest.
— April D. Wolfe @ Common Folk Music