Like fellow Minnesotans Charlie Parr and Trampled By Turtles, this string band is making a name for itself beyond the shadow of the Twin Cities. In fact, while this review sits folded in the Indy on the floor of your car, Pert’ Near Sandstone’s tunes will be piped into homes across the country when they play on “A Prairie Home Companion” for the first time on November 1.
The band’s angle on the hillbilly music theme is pretty original—they are not a String Cheesy jamgrass band, nor are they gutterpunk old-time thrashers, nor do they play straight-up “trad” material. As confirmed by their lyrics and liner notes, the fellas are fairly cerebral—think The Decemberists meet the Hackensaw Boys. Needle & Thread features an original dirge for a lost lover, a ska-reminiscent song and several traditional fiddle tracks.
Instrumentally, Pert’ Near Sandstone sounds the most secure when they’re in the throes of a fixed-melody fiddle tune. But when the boys go out on an improvisational limb, the listener is never sure if the solo will be pure chaos, if it will somehow gracefully resolve or if the whole lot will just implode—every outcome worrisome, every outcome riveting. (Caroline Keys)
Pert’ Near Sandstone plays the Top Hat Thursday, Nov. 6, at 10 PM. Cover TBA.