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Frank Smith

Nineties (Big Snow)

Reviewed by Abby Johnston, Fri., March 15, 2013

SXSW 2013 Records

Frank Smith

Nineties (Big Snow)

Boston transplants Frank Smith wove Northwestern roots with Austin alt.country on three previous local releases, fusing the two most successfully on 2012's Before You Were Born. With April full-length Nineties, the quartet takes another turn in era homage. While mostly eschewing acoustic guitars, Aaron Sinclair and company haven't abandoned their acquired country leanings. Rather, they've morphed them into Pavement and Sonic Youth-inspired guitar rock. "Beaten Sacks of Death" broods in controlled bursts of guitar climbs, whining at the top in a Western signature. "It's So Easy" refracts lingering guitar work and ambient echoes, still managing a punching, explosive chorus. Despite the shift, Frank Smith shines at pared-down ballads like "Chewing Glass." It's simple storytelling, something the band perfected in folk-rock forays. (1am, Creekside at Hilton Garden Inn)

***

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