Space Grass by the duo Hank & Brendan is an eclectic mix of blue grass, classic southern attitude and just a bit of punk. The interesting use of a guitar and banjo to produce music that tries really hard to not be the expected southern bluegrass or country leaves this album in a class by itself.
“Reflections” is the song on the album that comes closest to the more traditional banjo heavy bluegrass sound one may expect to come out of the south as Hank & Brendan represent Chapel Hill, NC. This stand alone instrumental piece showcases some impressive banjo skills. “Rationalize” takes the banjo one step beyond bluegrass when it combines with some haunting lyrics and a darker guitar presence. It was almost a Nirvana meets a southern revival over a few beers. It was all over the place but in the most fun of ways.
“Snakes” was exactly what it sounds like, a song about snakes with a banjo backing. This jumps back to a more traditional banjo tune with an almost child-like quality except for the language. It was the oddest of the songs on the album but also quirky enough that it could be a cult classic. “Dis” was very much along the same lines with a darker sound but some almost silly lyrics.
Of all the songs on the album, I enjoyed the gritty sound of “Riff.” The banjo played a background role to the heavy guitar and more bluesy vocals. This is where the punk influence for the duo comes out. Prior to listening to the album it was a little hard to imagine a mix of bluegrass and punk but it works for the duo.
“Deep Space” mixed the best of that grit with bluegrass. The guitar and banjo melted together in a way that I don't think I have heard before, and this is a good thing. It's different enough to attract listeners who may not call themselves fans of bluegrass but it grows on you.
Hank & Brendan are the bluegrass of the future and I look forward to hearing more from them. On paper I had no idea what to expect when they self-described themselves as a mix of bluegrass, rock and punk but it works for them. This seems like the type of band that only gets better in person.
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