These Wild Plains is a rarity in that it is an Americana rock band from Boston. It is also a rarity because on the new album Thrilled To Be Here (Hall of Champions), the band shows that it can thrive simultaneously in both rock and roll and country.
It doesn’t take long to notice that this band has something in common with Drag the River. Specifically, this band is equal parts rock and roll and country. “The Quitter” is a good example. On the one hand, you have a rock and roll rhythm and a guitar part that is louder than the typical country song. On the other hand is the pedal steel, which gives the song a honky-tonk sound. The whole song is tied together with the slightly raspy vocals of Ben Vosk. “It Is What It Is” is another song that really shows off the rock and roll chops of the band. What is particularly interesting about this one is how much the tone of the guitar brings Social Distortion to mind.
The title of the album comes from “Carraro’s Blues,” which is something of a lament. It begins with the lyrics, “This must be the last bar in the valley that will serve us without asking how much we’ve had. I’d be lying if I said I was thrilled to be here, but I’ll gladly throw a few more on the tab.” Between the melody and the harmony vocals, this song feels a lot like something from the 70s. The guitar and the pedal steel might be more in the forefront of this song, but the rhythm laid down by Rob Motes (drums) and Steve Lord (bass) will get you moving.
Even when a song is filled with regret like “Happy Birthday”, the band knows how to rock. In the lyrics, Vosk mentions making a phone call that includes “some things I don’t mean to say.” Yet despite the sad tone of the song, it is an uptempo rocker.
This album is unusual in that if it were going to be nominated for an award (and perhaps it should be), it could be nominated just as easily either in the rock category or the Americana category. The only problem with the album is that with only 10 songs, it’s over too quickly. Thrilled To Be Here will be released on September 6. Order your copy here.