New York and Country Bar

Thursday, October 11, 2001

The Ashtray Hearts call their songs "apartment music," which is an apt description. But it is the music of an old apartment, with dirty wood floors, old iron radiators and large windows. It is cold and windy outside, and the plumbing makes clanking noises.

The band's slow, sad, spare songs are the kind that made Elliott Smith and Damien Jurado famous. But this music is much richer, snare and guitar complimented with organ and a beautiful droning accordian. The production blends these instruments perfectly.

The 7" asks to be played at 33 1/3, of course. "New York" clocks in at a little less than three minutes, a tale of funerals and drunks. "There's nothing in New York City," it goes. "It's hard to get drunk; it's hard to get home."

"Country Bar," the glorious b-side, steals the show, however. After a creeping introduction that could have played over Dustin Hoffman's lonely moving walkway ride, the raspy vocals, an odd mix of David Lowery and, er, Adam Duritz, build to a strong crescendo as the song approaches its sixth minute.

Rating: A

Reviewed by Crispin Havernill
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