Rogue Sounds: ‘Sinplicity,’ by The John Dough Boys stands out in a crowd
There are days when it feels like Southern Oregon has as many string bands as it does pine trees. And with stylized uniformity like that, it can be hard for any of them to really stand out.
But that’s a nifty track managed with aplomb by The John Dough Boys on their new disc, Sinplicity.
The recently-released collection has 13 tracks of banjo, guitar, standup bass, snare, and gritty vocals. And the songs are by no means reinventing the wheel. Most run with tried and true themes like whiskey-drinkin’, hell-raising, and failed relationships, but they are delivered with clever hooks and wordplay to make them pop.
“Everybody talks about my drinkin’, but nobody talks about how thirsty I am,” the band sings on “Emma.”
“I’m living at 667, I’m the neighbor of the beast, he’s keeping me up all night, I can’t get no sleep,” they sing on “667.”
But the thing that stands out the most about Sinplicity is that it sounds fantastic. The guitars hum. The drums pop. Descending triplet slaps on the bass come through crystal-clear. And none of it sounds like it’s trying too hard. It’s a perfect blend of the roots vibe that Southern Oregon eats up, and the punkier elements of the band’s background.
A big part of that sound is the inclusion of electric guitar on much of Sinplicity. Tasteful hints of twang and tremolo give whole new shape to the songs, tilting them towards rockabilly, but not too far.
Another element that makes the album pop is that rather than blaze straight through the collection of songs with a single train beat, as most grass-hyphenate bands are wont to do, the songs consistently shift tempo, meter, and vibe—casually swinging on one verse, then racing through the next. This lets the tunes stay fresh and nimble even within the roots structure.
Sinplicity is by turns mournful, clever, and balls-out rocking. It is without a doubt nothing truly new. There is nary a bold new direction for music to be found on its 13 tracks. But it’s a great listen from start to finish and then again on repeat, and is easily the best local album yet this year.
Sinplicity is available on CD at the band’s shows.