Here we go. After wading through some dismal, disappointing releases in this quarter’s review pile, Spain’s Acuarela label comes through again with excellent sad-bastard music. Like Willard Grant Conspiracy, if they knew what they were doing, or a jauntier Red House Painters, The Strugglers’ sound is a huge, hollow and stomping autumn maelstrom. It’s the sound of racing down a leaf-covered gravel road at top speeds in the heart of October. This makes little sense, considering the shadow of a bleak winter doesn’t loom very large in their home state of North Carolina. Perhaps it’s simply empathy with us snowbound fools, but the way the group’s acoustic guitars play sinewy and rickety against a freight train rhythm section while somber strings enclose about like the promise of a winter sweater could have been berthed just as easily north of the 33rd parallel. Regardless of the source of inspiration, these folks have the deep melacholy in their bones, they write beautiful songs and we all win because of it.