September 18, 2008

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5 Amber Dust, Good Things Bad Timing
self-released, Sept. 2

On to Sandown, N.H., again for the new EP from alt-folk techies Amber Dust, now a duo with the amiable departure of keyboard player Mike Harvey (you know you’re dealing with a serious act when the remaining members refuse to hire a replacement and leave the spot open for the old guy).

These guys are bold, a little reckless even, and will absolutely get a nice record deal if they choose to pursue one. Within this seven-song EP there is both reverence for your Jack Johnsons and a refreshingly youthful cynicism that prevents any writing off of the band as a bunch of ho-hum understimulated townies. How dare the little brats kick off the record with what sounds like a live set at Millys, but wait, it’s not a live recording, it’s a hit of rusted-pickup sort-of-bluegrass/sort-of-Burt Bacharach with a scratched-record effect throughout. And just like that, the gauntlet is thrown — they’re certainly not unaware of what’s going on in the darkest dungeons of indie-rock. The bacon-and-egg effects continue into the first part of “The Boat,” in which singer Jesse Nickerson emulates a punch-drunk Neil Young, but the fog suddenly clears and they’re doing a glossy cross between Eastmountainsouth and a cab-driver-radio ’70s thing from Eagles or America. The Americana genre isn’t overflowing with bands, signed or unsigned, like this, willing to throw the sound under a microscope and tinker with it until it’s undeniably relevant and refreshing. Download the EP for free at www.myspace.com/amberdustmusic. AEric W. Saeger