husband&wife | Proud Flesh (Crossroads of America)

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husband&wife seems to be the bastard child of Toad the Wet Sprocket, Uncle Tupelo and Minus the Bear.

It was random roulette in the old PLAYBACK:stl mail bin as I grabbed a couple handfuls of CDs for a listen. You never know what you’re going to get, so something vaguely up your alley is always a nice surprise. The band name and album art led me to believe husband&wife would be an acoustic folk duo. Wrong. (Happily.)
The best description I can give you of the sound is that husband&wife seems to be the bastard child of Toad the Wet Sprocket, Uncle Tupelo and Minus the Bear. There’s more ’90s indie rock/alt-country than ’00s flavors. Though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does leave something of a stale, lingering odor.
husband&wife is not a male-female duo; rather, it is four guys from Bloomington, Ind., making melodious—if not altogether original—noise. “Begone Long One” opens the disc with a quick swath of alternative/indie rock; serious Toad overtures here. That song gives way to “Market Fresh,” which draws heavily on the groundbreaking alt-country sounds of bands such as Uncle Tupelo. “Not Every Bird Can Fly” dips further into the twangy melancholy, but the title track lifts things up a bit. “Proud Flesh” is a strong track: it’s soaring, engaging and almost anthemic.
While “6 Little Indians” blends Minus the Bear with Rhett Miller, “They Should Give You Medicine” comes with an almost Hüsker Dü-ish wall of noise. Following “Extendo Jam” (which is exactly as it sounds, an extended jam, though the introduction of vocals midway through make this more Minus the Bear than Bobby Bare Jr., easily earning it top-song honors in my book. Up next, “Low Profile” sounds like a continuation of its predecessor—albeit with regular verse-chorus-verse structure. “I Have Been Made Huge” has some flashes back to classic rock of the ’60s; “Belong Gone One” (get the letter-play with the first song? Get it?) is your cut-and-dried alt-country. This leaves us with the last track, “Class War,” which introduces some Ben Folds-ish piano to the rootsy mix.
So there; now you know what you’re getting into with this one. If you find yourself drawn to a variety of sounds from the past couple decades, then this one’s probably gonna be up your alley. What you bring to the headphones will determine how much you enjoy husband&wife and their sophomore release Proud Flesh. B | Laura Hamlett
RIYL: Toad the Wet Sprocket, the Old 97’s, Uncle Tupelo

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