Despite a name that conjures up bleak imagery and the threat of Arctic cold, Dead Winter Carpenters's eponymous debut is a healthy dose of warm-weather medicine guaranteed to cure those frostbitten blues. The Lake Tahoe, Calif. quintet spins a colorful web of influences, including country, bluegrass, rock and a dash of ragtime, replete with silky fiddle lines and contagious melodies. The result is a pleasing reflection of American roots traditions that rolls along like a stagecoach across the Western plains.
The band could play this album from start to finish live and they'd have a perfect setlist. Songs such as the opener "Holy Moses" and "Devil Town" are instant crowd pleasers with sing-along choruses. "Sun Don't Shine" starts with a lazy fiddle melody à la Railroad Earth before turning into a straw-twixt-your-teeth, pickin'-and-grinnin' twangfest packed with rollicking country guitar licks. Mellower tunes like "Vermont" and "Russian River" are placed perfectly in the middle of the album, giving the listener a bit of a break from the band's freight-train rhythm. Aside from a few lackluster tracks such as "Hip Hop Happy Hour," this album is a hoedown from start to finish.
Dead Winter Carpenters play the VFW Thursday, April 5, at 9 PM with Voodoo Horseshoes and PD Lear. Free.