Reading, Pennsylvania's Frog Holler
isn't just another alt-country band with a regrettable name, a flannel-and-beard aesthetic and an obsessive fatalism summed up by lines like, "How come there's Heaven for us, but not 'til we die?/Meanwhile there's Hades for us, while we're alive." On their recently released fifth album, Haywire
, they're ironing out the details on becoming the definitive such band, bringing flashing banjos and mandolins, Byrdsy harmonies, woozy pedal steel and accordion, and the kind of guitar-flogging that owes as much to basement bong sessions as Crazy Horse records. Frog Holler's country amateurism is superceded only by their rock & roll resolve, and a narrative persuasion that generally steers clear of tunes as smart as they are deceptively off-hand.