Old Canes

On the surface, the Old Canes’ Early Morning Hymns is a happy, upbeat album. Play it in a room full of unsuspecting test subjects, and the mood is instantly elevated. Even those who are seated tend to dance, tapping toes and treating the tops of their own knees as drums. But the fast pace and generally rockin’ feel of the music is deceptive. Fast and upbeat doesn’t always amount to happy; fast can be frantic, desperately uncertain. But because Early Morning Hymns unleashes a desperation you can dance to, it beats the pants off anything emo. In fact, the few slow and somber numbers are the tracks to skip, if you’re the track-skipping sort. Of course, every song can’t be a lively romp. But the lively romps are unquestionably what make this album worth the stereo time. With a full sound that combines elements of bluegrass (strings, harmonica), punk rock (husky, harried vocals), indie balladry (worried lyrics) and even a little brass band (that would be because of the, you know, brass instruments), the Old Canes are tough to categorize. The first track on the album, “Taxi on Vermont,” sums up the vibe perfectly. At a bounce-inducing pace, the song addresses broken hearts, futility, sleeping around, getting high, drinking oneself silly and finally trying to find a way to stay alive. Somehow, it’s that last hint of hope that resonates.

Categories: Music