Why Make Clocks played with these guys at DG’s Tap House in Ames and really liked them. What I saw was a skilled psychedelic country-rock band who know their way around effects pedals and jangle. I was surprised to hear that they hailed from Brooklyn, but it all made sense when I found out later that the band members are all Midwestern transplants from Kansas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The big city apparently hasn’t knocked any of the flyover country dust from their boots, and the group’s moniker seems like it may have been chosen as a hint of what the show-goer might be in for, or what they might be surprised by.
This CD-R was on their merch table. According to the guys in the band, it was supposed to be released on cassette but the label didn’t have it out in time for the tour. It’s just as well: the band we saw in Ames was much more road-tight than what I hear on this. But Transmission has its own charms too. It evokes the transcendence of open country spaces that might be Midwestern or Western — not least because the first half of the album is mixed with enough reverb to sound like you’re seeing the band play a show at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The photograph of a radio tower against the night sky, with way more stars showing than you can see from in town, is well chosen. Side A’s highlights are definitely the spooky rocker “Festival,” with whirling space-rock synthesizers and a false ending before the rave-up second half, and the sweet ballad “Bullet Of a Gun.”
After an electric instrumental jam “Exit the Burn,” Side B commits the remainder of the album to an acoustic folk and country blues approach. For the drop in instrumentation, however, it doesn’t lose the least bit of the haunted country atmosphere stirred up by the first half. Transmissions definitely has me interested in what We Are Country Mice come up with next, and I hope they come back around Ames or Des Moines again to show it to us when they do.
Here’s a pretty neat interview I found.