Sounds of RVA by Sarah Moore
REVIEW - The Atkinsons, Mile Marker
Richmond’s The Atkinsons have just released their second album, Mile Marker. The Atkinsons have been together for seven years, though, so they have had time to hone their sound and get any kinks out of their system. You might even say that along the way, the band has gone down certain roads, marking them as they go along. “[Mile Marker] follows its own path from the back roads to the highways that inevitably lead you back home.”
The album tends to grow on you as you listen to each track. The Atkinsons meld a bit of alt-country (in the vein of Drive-By Truckers or Son Volt) with rock and roll, swing music, Texas Cajun and many more for a driving sound that is fast enough for dance halls and chill enough to do some laundry to. (BTW, the song from the video is also on this disc).
One of the highlight tracks is “No Ordinary Home.” Singer/guitarist Dickie Wood sings an anthemic “I’m going hooooome” that sticks in the ear. Multi-part harmonies really sell the phrase. Violinist Mike Ferry spins a web around the track, almost outlining the sounds so they don’t roam too far. His fiddle is almost like a cow herder’s dog, weaving in and out of the
composition but still making sure everyone knows he’s there.
“Scar” has the heart of zydeco and the restraint of vivacious bluegrass. Buzzing guitars and layers of stringed instruments make the track particularly boisterous. “She thinks I need to grow / But I think she needs to know/ She’s just an other scar to liquor down.”
“Upstate” has the laziness of “Tuesday’s Gone” by Skynyrd, evening out the album’s momentum. “Fisherman’s Blues” perks things up a bit for the last track on the album. Even non-fishermen and women can understand wanting to get away from it all and just focus on the simple, awesome things in life.
Mile Marker has a bonus track, “Left Hand.” The song really spotlights Jeff Williams on mandolin, whose instrument may have gotten lost in the whole orchestration. The intricate picking is echoed by guitar, an octave lower. The whole thing has a gypsy feeling to it. Dickie’s vocals have an extra Elvis Costello goodness in this track. I am uncertain how I feel about bonus tracks, and I think this would have fit in pretty nicely with the rest of the selections. Soon “bonus tracks” will have no meaning.
Interested in hearing more? Check out:
edit: The bonus track, “Left Hand” was covered after the death of Ross Harman of the Gaskets a few months ago. It will appear on a tribute album being released soon.