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McCarthy Trenching

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Album Review

McCarthy Trenching is the vehicle for Dan McCarthy, a Nebraskan who's collaborated with Bright Eyes, Tilly and the Wall, and practically everyone else living in the Cornhusker State. This guy's friends with Conor Oberst, but don't expect any of Oberst's fragility or tremulousness on this disc. Like the longhorn steer on the album's cover, McCarthy's solid. He's methodical and deliberate, preferring a stoic growl to an angst-ridden moan. McCarthy writes about drinking, destitution, highways, and women, and he goes about it in a workmanlike fashion, one chord at a time, brick by brick. In fact, this is the single most pleasurable thing about listening to McCarthy's songs. He never forces things. The man takes his time, and it's a real treat to hear him mosey his way through a story. Comparisons to Gillian Welch, Will Oldham, Woody Guthrie, and Johnny Cash wouldn't be out of place; McCarthy writes songs that sound like they could have been written anytime in the past hundred years. "Wedding Song" sounds like a lost Guthrie track, what with the spare, meandering guitar licks and McCarthy's chagrined, world-weary vocals. Of course, it doesn't hurt that it's about a man who wants to "have a dobro daughter and a mandolin-pickin' son" just so he can "raise a real fine bluegrass band." And like Guthrie, as well as any other folk singer worth his salt (Arlo Guthrie and David Bromberg come to mind), McCarthy has a great sense of humor ("Michaela, I'm sorry. I wrecked your old jalopy/I was running from a hooker who said I owed her money"). His songs are rough-hewn, sturdy, and above all else comfortable.


Formed: Omaha, NE

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

McCarthy Trenching is the alternative country-rock project of Dan McCarthy, an Omaha-based musician who has collaborated with fellow Nebraska outfits like Bright Eyes, Tilly and the Wall, and Azure Ray. His self-titled debut, released in 2007, featured a good deal of material from McCarthy's 2003 demo, Old Habits; the remainder was recorded between 2005 and 2006 during the so-called It's Got Nothing to Do with the Drinking sessions. The earthy record was...
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McCarthy Trenching, McCarthy Trenching
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