By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Through creative playing and use of effects pedals, Burntsienna Trio's Justin Collins stretches the limitations of the banjo, an instrument wrongly stereotyped as the territory of drooling, overall-clad moonshine connoisseurs. Whether it's the fast-picked getaway music of "On Demand" or atmospheric plucked notes in "Prelude to Theme from Little Bermuda," the banjo's unique twang is central to the Trio's rough-hewn, bluesy rock as Collins mixes rock 'n' roll feedback and distortion with the traditional scales and chord changes of roots music.
Gregor-Jotace Mission Cathedral's driving rhythms and building/fading waves of feedback and noise give it an exciting sense of urgency that makes it a fun listen. But even with the band's unique approach to the banjo (and with Collins sometimes switching to acoustic guitar), GJMC drags as songs start to sound alike. Though it's less than 40 minutes long, you won't be tempted to let it repeat. But you'll want to hear it again the next day.
Collins sometimes affects a Tom Waits talk-singing style with the gravelly quality of a drunken smoker who's spent the last six hours shouting over a loud jukebox. That along with the group's distorted modern take on the timeless sounds of banjo and acoustic guitar makes comparisons to Waits almost inevitable; because the band's name references artwork on Heartattack and Vine, I doubt they mind.
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