Let me start this by saying I think every band should have a live album, EP, recording. That way you (the listener) aren’t duped by overuse of auto-tune, reverb and general tricks of the evil commercial music industry…that being saying, Portland based North of Nashville’s “Live at the Rack” is a homerun on all fronts.
Two guys, some stringed instruments, and a kick drum is all that makes up this rootsy duo, but in listening to the record you would never guess that’s all that is going on. Made up of Jay Basiner (vocals, guitar, harmonica, bass drum, tambourine...wow, thats a lot of stuff) and Andrew Martelle (mandolin, fiddle, vocals) the band’s sound is surprisingly huge considering there is only two of these gents pickin’ and kickin’. Driving rhythm guitar, mandolin and fiddle flourishes and naturally warm vocal harmonies flush out this 15 track live recording at what I assume is one of the bands favorite haunts.
In listening to the work, it makes me wish I was there at The Rack that night. You can feel the fun and vigor that was ever present in the room that evening and as a musician myself, I must admit I am a bit jealous that the fellas captured this on tape! A good mix of NoN material and This Way tunes (Jay and Andrew’s previous project) rounded out the night, which at first made me worried as This Way was a bigger outfit, but again, the huge sound these guys are able to create shines through. The music is a fresh take on traditional roots music…foot stomping, hooting & hollering, exuberant sounds…and that is a good thing!
Overall, this is a fun, upbeat and energetic recording that encompasses what these gents do best…beat the crap out of their instruments and play their hearts out to anyone with a willing ear. They just may be the hardest working musicians in the Northeast. Be sure to check it out streaming on the duo’s bandcamp page.