Better Than This

Checkered Past

If you took the members from R.E.M., made them listen to Garth Brooks for a while, and then let them loose to rock, you’d have Hadacol. Although both brothers Fred and Greg Wickham trade off lead vocal responsibility, both sound eerily like Michael Stipe. Their backup vocalization style and rhythm guitar style is so similar to the Athens group that, with the exception of a few tunes that are distinctly Hadacol, you might think R.E.M. put out a country-themed album.

The album starts off innocently enough, with a light and airy mandolin strumming along in the title-track, “Better Than This,” but less than half a minute into it, Hadacol tosses in their distinctive Nashville influence, and the album never once stops for a break. Some of the songs are slower and more balladesque, but the large majority of the album is plain old hoe-down country rock. Their music isn’t so painfully country that it’s intolerable for anyone not into the straw-chewing genre, but it’s not subtle enough to be enjoyed by anyone who can’t appreciate Shania Twain either. However, if you’re an R.E.M. and country fan, then Better Than This is your ticket.

Checkered Past Records, 1456 North Dayton, Suite 295, Chicago, IL 60622

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