Perfect riffs from an unexpected quarter 

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The Harmed Brothers have spent a decade being one of the nation’s most eclectic road bands, with roots ranging from Missouri to L.A. The band has settled in Ludlow, Kentucky, and conjured a fifth LP that moves beyond traditional alt-country rock to offer riff-filled gems that stick with listeners like old Top 40 friends. On Across the Waves (Fluff & Gravy Records), the band sounds like a slightly country-tinged version of The Dismemberment Plan or Del Amitri — a band for which no syllable of lyrics or note of a musical passage is wasted.

So is there a theme to tracks like “Skyline Over” and “Born a Rotten Egg”? Only that in the grim 2020s, it’s important to squeeze hope and joy from dismal landscapes. Many of the tracks aim for cheerful, but The Harmed Brothers don’t take an easy path to get there. Somehow, the 10 songs function as summertime full-throated driving anthems, but ones where driver and passengers must transit a landscape of utter despair to get to that happy place.


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