Phonograph – Hiawatha Talking Machine

Phonograph – Hiawatha Talking Machine / 2007 Red Ghost / 5 Tracks / /

This New York band, on their “Hiawatha Talking Machine”, is attempting to go forth and give vitality to the folk genre in ways that traditionalists such as Andy Cabic and Devendra Banhart have not even conceived of. “Little Chief” blends together a down-home feel with a Radiohead (“OK Computer-era”) type of pacing. The slightly goofy sounding vocals present provide an interesting counterpoint to this modern, late nineties sound. What results when these two segments of the band’s sound come together is something that individuals that are fans of all genres can get behind. “Normal Illinois” continues along the same line.

Long, drawn-out atmospheric lines provide the backdrop for this track, while the guitars seem firmly rooted in seventies music. The vocals continue their story-telling, earlier style. What results in “Normal Illinois” is a track that individuals may think ready for the classic rock stations, but soon jettison that idea after the electronic, frigid strains of the synthesizer kick in. The use of the slide guitar or lap steel during “Somewhere Between” is another addition to Phonograph’s style, but by the end of this track, the act has firmly rooted themselves in this style. I can see Phonograph going further with this style, but wonder where they will end up. This specific style could work well for the act for a full-length, but would start to show its age in subsequent albums. Phonograph is one of the few bands that are currently out and about that can really shift the focus of their disc to the instrumental parts of their band and have it work. This is why “Hiawatha Talking Machine” works so well as an EP, and why the chances are good that Phonograph will be the next big thing. The act does need to figure out where they will go from here, though.

Top Track: Somewhere Between

Rating: 7.2/10

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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