The Black Twig Pickers - Whompyjawed
As the old saying goes, "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." Thus, as we see more and more technological advances in the production and sound of music, we also see artists who prefer to retreat into old-time ways and look to the past for their inspirations. The Black Twig Pickers fall very much into this category. A traditional Appalachian country band from Virginia, they forgo more modern instruments and production in favour of fiddles, banjos and basic percussion.
Whompyjawed consists of two tracks of what could best be described as "hoedown music" (and in case you think this is me being dismissive or sarcastic, bear in mind the first track is actually called 'Merry Mountain Hoedown'). What becomes clear with each listen is how well crafted the tracks are. 'Merry Mountain Hoedown' starts off with an uptempo fiddle refrain that carries the first part of the track, before the banjo is brought into play, adding another layer to the track. On 'Bushy Fork Of John's Creek' meanwhile, the percussion comes more to the fore, with the drumming peppering the melody. There is a charm to both songs that is infectious, with their jauntiness making them hard to dislike. The problem is that the tracks don't really go anywhere. That wouldn't be as much of a problem if not for the length of each track. At over ten minutes each, and without any significant changes or any vocals to break them up, it becomes too easy to lose attention.
It's probably fair to say that Whompyjawed is more of a curio than anything else. Listening to them, you get the impression that the Black Twig Pickers would be a load of fun live. When a band names a song based around a hoedown, you can safely assume it's primarily a song for dancing to, and that listening to them in the comfort of your own home, whilst still enjoyable, doesn't have the same effect. It's good-natured fun that is hard to dislike, but doesn't do enough to make it lovable.