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The Hillary Step

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Album Review

A jam band beloved from Berkeley to Boulder to Asheville despite their rather naff name — which sounds like the name a writer from The Simpsons would give a hippie-ish, Americana-infused jam band for satiric purposes — Jupiter Coyote have distilled their sound to a certain kind of perfection on Hillary Step. Unfortunately, perfection is not necessarily a virtue in the world of jam bands, a genre where spontaneity is prized above all else. There are very few spontaneous moments on their eighth album, just one three-and-a-half to five-and-a-half-minute mid-tempo pop song with occasional bluegrass and country touches after another. There are no extended improvisatory segments — even the nearly eight-minute closer, the lovely and mostly acoustic "Fade," never really cuts loose — and the self-produced album has all the gloss of Hootie & the Blowfish (unsurprisingly, Darius Rucker makes a guest vocal appearance) and none of the excitement that a truly great jam band is supposed to generate. The admittedly catchy "Falling" is tailor-made for AAA radio stations in vegetarian coffeehouses throughout the college towns of the land, but settling for being the Spin Doctors when you have it in you to be a southern-fried Phish is just sad.


Formed: 1990

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The modern rock five-piece Jupiter Coyote spawns a technicolor blend of bluegrass and American trad rock. Matthew Mayes (guitar) and childhood friend John Felty (vocals/guitar) started the band in their native Brevard, NC, as a means to earn some money in college. They spent the early '90s playing frat houses and small bars, sharpening their funk and country-pop stylings. Several bandmembers came and went and by the mid-'90s, Mayes and Felty had made Jupiter Coyote their careers. Their steady five-piece,...
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The Hillary Step, Jupiter Coyote
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