Red Heart Alarm - Hammer Anvil Stirrup (Album Review)
Seattle is increasingly becoming a bastion of alt country Americana bands vying to be the next big thing toting the Ballard Avenue sound. Red Heart Alarm have coined one of the best terms for their sound calling what they do “Gruntry,” explaining that it marries their native city’s Grunge legacy with the melodic twang of classic Americana/Roots music.
The band employed iconic producer Jack Endino to record their second self released album Hammer Anvil Stirrup, and solidify the sonic philosophy. The result is a collection of raw edged, loose grooving tunes filled with shades of The Dead, Wilco, Steve Earl and The Band. The vocal, guitar playing and songwriting duo of Corey Alfred and Jared Monschein are at the heart of every track, with their easy talk sing vocal style setting the laid back tone.
Thematically these fellas are presenting some low down blues, no matter how much you dress it up with chiming guitars, a swinging rhythm section and lovely piano, these are some sad songs. Standouts among the collection are the delightfully dark anthem ‘Happy Funeral,’ and left handed love song ‘Looking For Trouble.’ The Beatles-esque lament ‘Winter,’ has some beautiful chords changes and has you quickly joining the morose sing along of “wooh is me, I am so lonely,’ and it has an honest to goodness guitar solo, how retro is that. The rambunctious drinking song ‘Receipt,’ is surely a favorite of the bands live show, and Jerry Garcia would surely approved of the loopy minor key shuffle ‘Puddles.’
~Rick J Bowen