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Album Review

Back in 2009, rock & roll enigma Anton Fier, drummer and visionary behind the Golden Palominos, emerged from his silence of more than a decade to produce Drivin' n' Cryin''s excellent The Great American Bubble Factory. He also became an active drummer again, playing with guitarist Tony Scherr's longstanding Monday night residency in New York City. Kinney caught him there and the pair rekindled their friendship. Around this same time, the Golden Palominos had played some well-received reunion shows and Kinney and Fier began jamming together impromptu in a rehearsal space. It progressed to a Kickstarter campaign and resulted in the monstrously fine A Good Country Mile. Kinney's name is on the front cover, but the back lists "...and the Golden Palominos." It's a collaboration in every sense of the word. The album is inspired, tight, classic-sounding rock & roll; whether it's of the garage, roots, or country-rock variety. Fier's production is deeply intuitive, groove conscious, and free of excess. He creates loads of space around music that reflects rock & roll classicism, but the music is kinetic; it has a very live feel, like that heard on the very best recordings of the late '60s and early 70s. You can name all the inspirational sources you want, but this music is the bounty of a heightened focus that exists almost symbiotically between Kinney and Fier. The Golden Palominos include Fier, Scherr on guitars, and Andy Hess on bass. Kinney plays guitars and harmonica, and guests include Jon Cowherd on piano and B-3, and guitarist Aaron Lee Tasjan, among others. The set list includes excellent Kinney songs (the nine-minute jam "Bird" is among his very best), a couple of surprise covers — including a killer reading of the Drive-By Truckers' "Never Gonna Change" — to open, and a definitive reading of Seven Mary Three's "Southwestern State" to close it. That said, most of the best tracks here are the Kinney-Fier co-writes that make up half the record. "Challenge" is one, it begins slowly with acoustic six-string, a dobro, and warm electric guitars weaving through one another. Fier's snare and kick drum are guiding forces. The verse is almost stately, but the refrain explodes into fuzzy wah-wah guitar, Kinney's snarling vocals, and a punched-up bassline — until the bridge, where total surprise awaits the listener. "Wild Dog Moon, Pt. 2," starts heavy, with blues-rock riffs and thundering drums that are way up in the mix. Kinney's voice is more than up to the task; he snarls and wails, carrying the song to the limit before another gorgeous bridge cools it all out. The bottom line is that A Good Country Mile is transcendent rock & roll. It's timeless in listener appeal and musicianship. We can only hope that this creative reunion is a long-lasting one between Kinney and Fier — and the Golden Palominos.

Biography

Born: Milwaukee, WI

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Kevn Kinney was the lead singer of the Atlanta rock band Drivin' n' Cryin', but since the band's 1986 inception he's released some spare acoustic records on his own, often collaborating with R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. MacDougal Blues for Island in 1990 announced the rocker's arrival on the folk scene with the engaging title cut and nine more acoustic tracks produced by Buck and mostly played by his bandmates from Drivin' n' Cryin'. Though often cited as a working-class lyricist, Kinney cannot easily...
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