The Dead Winter Carpenters are as comfortable in the dance hall as they are considering lost love, sin, guilt and cultural madness.
The first track on the North Lake Tahoe, Calif. band's newest release Washoe (Dead Winter Carpenters, Feb. 2016), "Midnight Ghost," kicks off with a rambling lead in that calls to mind Creedence Clearwater Revival, complete with the lonesome howl of a steel guitar. This is music you would expect to hear in a place with sawdust or peanut shells on the floor. "Love Amongst Thieves"—an ode to partners in crime—carries a hustling country rhythm throughout, but throws in some strings to smooth out the jive. The lyrics ease in overtop with a hint of Dylan, both in lethargic style and pithy substance, with lines like, "You laid the bait and I made the switch." "Good Old Time" is an anthem to excess that opens with the declaration: "wine, whiskey, weed and women got a jones in my bones," combining the toe-tapping quality of "Love Amongst Thieves" while jumping back into the barroom evoked on "Midnight Ghost."
It's not all roadhouse rock, though. "If I Wrote You a Song" is a tears-in-your-beer ballad about heartbreak, while "Winning Hand" is straight up funky and "North Wind" is a wailing apocalyptic rumination on national disintegration.