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Record Review 

Blowing out of Wichita, Kan., with more velocity than a fall twister, Split Lip Rayfield's fourth album lands harder than Dorothy's farmhouse on the Wicked Witch of the East. Less musically insurgent than most Bloodshot bands, these fearless straight-ahead bluegrass pickers are as accomplished and old-fashioned as a Sugar Hill act. They're also twice as ornery, with songs about screwed-up cars and lives. And when's the last time you heard a kazoo tootin' with mandolin, banjo and guitar on a Bill Monroe album?

The band's thumping one-string bass -- fashioned from a beat-up Ford's gas tank -- is symbolic of SLR's no-frills approach. Their "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" is psychological and the only "Orange Blossom Special" they're hoppin' is an acoustic, pickin' and grinnin' percussion-free train barreling straight into your happy feet. These hicks don't need voltage, they've got corn liquor in their veins and itchy fret-shredding fingers rarin' to rip it to pieces.

Living in the present while glorifying the past, Split Lip Rayfield are going straight to hell for simultaneously messing with tradition and respecting it, and taking us along for the ride. Hang tight and don't look back.

Split Lip Rayfield plays the Echo Lounge Wed., March 21.

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