Huckleberry Releases Fine Highway

I first caught Huckleberry at a gig at the Crescent somewhere in 2012 and I was slightly entranced by their sound—granted, it’s difficult not to be based on the sound system there, but when Ian Kelman sent me the tracks for their debut, Fine Highway, I was absolutely blown away. Not to detract from Huckleberry’s brilliance, but they are produced by Jalipaz, which immediately warms my ear, because I know that Jalipaz will not sign off on anything less than amazing. Once more Jalipaz has astounded me with the range within which he will apply his genius and in this case it is alt.country bliss. There is a growing sound in Arizona that I am appreciating just as much as the indie rock, the punk, the blues, the hard rock and the multi-cultural folk blends that currently define the “scene” and that sound very nearly borders on country music and I mean  alt. country, in the spirit of Ryan Adams, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo and even The Jayhawks.

What I love about this emerging sound (I’m thinking Bad Lucy, Lauren Farrah and a few others) is  that it is authentic desert music, it’s a sound that belongs to its geography, built of cactus spines, tequila, quartzite sand and miracles built within the joy of extremes. Listen to “Handle Me” and there is a joyful Nilsson-esque feel to the entire affair—it may be the most single ready song of the bunch, but it’s the playfulness musically here that counts. Where  other numbers seem well rehearsed, well studied and all else (the bluegrass vibe of “Fine Highway” for instance), “Handle Me” is  what  I come back to because it is the loosest, the “neatest “ number in the bunch. This is not to discredit any of the seven numbers here, because they are all amazing. The finest accomplishment in the end is the finale, “Sail Away”, which is a mini-epic and while it not only shows that they are masters of songwriting, it proves that  they can construct a song with the determination of a fierce architect. Brilliant in every way.

Huckleberry gets the award for releasing the first local album of 2013–and what a great way to start off the year with an amazing album launching New Years Day. Be sure to stay tuned to soundsaroundtown.net for a track by track review as we get closer to the album release party on February 22, 2013 when Huckleberry will hold the release party for Fine Highway at the Sail Inn with Banana Gun, Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold and others to be announced. Admission price will get you in and score you a copy of your choice of vinyl or CD copy of the album.

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