This Milwaukee-based punkgrass outfit seems doused in a concoction that’s equal parts cheap beer and holy water. Touting an Irish punk influence and toting instruments like mandolin, banjo, spoons and washboard, The .357 String Band is just as quick to quote the Gospel according to Matthew (a passage is listed in their liner notes) as curse like a bunch of longhaired, multi-pierced, heavily inked revelers (which they are). The result is a rambunctious spin similar to The Can Kickers.
Ghost Town opens with a double-timed version of the traditional “Pig in a Pen” and hardly slows down from there. Other highlights include the banjo-driven “Thank You” (with lilting guest fiddle from Danny Smith) and the bleak album closer, “Hard Times.” The latter does a better job than most of hiding the grating vocals of frontman Jayke Orvis, which is the only ingredient holding this band back from being an all-out party.
Ghost Town is a solid studio effort, but .357’s sound and energy speak more to the prospect of the full live effect. It promises to be a scene somewhere between a religious revival and a headbangers’ ball. (Skylar Browning)
The .357 String Band plays during the Murder in the Mountains Music Tour at the Elk’s Lodge Saturday, June 9, at 8 PM. $24.