The Boggs

The Boggs

We Are the Boggs We Are

Arena Rock

Authenticity should count for something in music, right? I mean, hell, you can’t just come along and start reaping the benefits of someone else’s hard work without paying some dues here and there — it’s just not fair.

For this reason, we should reject The Boggs. They are four youngish white dudes from Brooklyn who play fake bluegrass crossed with fake blues and fake old country field recordings. They use fancy vocal filters on some songs to make you think this is some 1947 West Virginia hoedown unearthed from Alan Lomax’s basement on reel-to-reel tapes. Christ, the damned thing’s even recorded in mono! This should make the blood of any right-thinking music lover boil, and call for the head of head Bogg Jason Friedman.

Except then you listen to the album and it’s impossible to hate it. Because it’s really fun and creepy and cool. First of all, let’s just say that The Boggs can cook up some Blue Ridge jams that you won’t believe. Whether it’s the blatant Leadbelly cop of “Whiskey And Rye” (that’s “Goodnight Ladies,” man, and don’t tell me it ain’t), the Robert Johnson meets Bill Monroe horror tales of “On North Wood Ground” (burying the dead woman) and “Poor Audrey James” (she kills her man with a rock), or the hillbilly duet of Friedman and guest vocalist Emily Jane Oviatt on “Emily, O Emily,” they all sound pretty ace. Especially great: the incredible jam at the end of “Plant Me a Rose.” Brooklyn kids got skills.

There is one significant drawback: Friedman’s voice, which sounds like he’s suffering through a particularly ambitious proctological exam on every song. Come on, Jason, either quit pretending you can’t sing or find someone who can — this way, it just kind of sounds condescending. There is also one significant secret weapon: Brad Conroy’s big fat drum sound. It’s very inauthentic, but it’s also very infectious. My wife now does “the Boggs dance” all over the house. Which is scary. I’m not kidding.

If you’re a purist, stay the hell away from this CD; it’ll make your blood boil. If you need your vocalist to sound like he can sing, ditto. But if you need a cool weird new sort of sound full of fun, and/or if you get off on murder ballads and throwdown mandolin/banjo/guitar instrumentals played with a punkish feel, then shit, man, welcome to the world of The Boggs.

The Arena Rock Recording Co.: http://www.arenarockrecordingco.com

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