Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The Parmesans' porch-pickin' bluegrass transcends regionalism

August 26, 2012

I love complicated, in-depth, hugely orchestrated albums. (See here and here.) But I also love the simple purity of a bunch of guys in a room with instruments, singin’ and playin’. The ParmesansUncle Dad’s Cabin EP is the latter.

Since the Internet, regionalism is much less of a thing–which is why I’m comfortable telling you that The Parmesans are from San Francisco and play thoroughly credible bluegrass.The guitar/banjo/mandolin/bass/group vocals set-up is employed to great effect. They kick the short set off with “Blooming Rose,” which is pretty much a marker to establish their bluegrass bona fides. It’s got everything you need to know about their technical skill. Then it gets interesting, as highlights “The Riddle Song” and “Brahms Was a Satanist” (!) come next. The first has a jaunty mood, memorable melodies and harmonies, and a great feel. The second features the guitarist, and picks up the question of what, exactly, Johannes Brahms believed. Their, uh, unusual take on the idea is presented in a pretty hilarious way.

Two more solid tunes follow, and they cement the aesthetic and my enjoyment of it. If you’re into porch-pickin’ bluegrass, you should definitely check this out. Although I’m not sure how many porches exist in cramped San Francisco; whatever. The spirit stays the same: I mean, they have a song on their tumblr called “Heinous Pit of Death.” Yes.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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