Red River

You'd probably never call Knife in the Water's music "country," but it certainly evokes country music in the sense that it takes painful and melancholy experiences and turns them into something strangely beautiful. Red River is the Austin quintet's second release, ten moody and meandering tunes that wash together with a pleasantly numbing effect. Laura Krause's haunting organ swells and Bill McCullough's heart-wrenching pedal steel guitar conjure up wide-open spaces, and Aaron Blount's mournful lyrics lend a quality of darkness: "Watch Your Back" is a paranoid love song couched in calmness; "Rene" is a murder ballad set to a snappy beat. The group's cover of Lee Hazlewood's "Sundown, Sundown" plods along, as Blount's sing-speak trades verses with Krause's hypnotic vocals until the track melds into a whirlpool of off-kilter harmonies and lap steel. Like the Velvet Underground's country-tinged songs, Knife in the Water's music is country twice removed, reinterpreted and influenced by the tranquil space rock of contemporaries like Bedhead and Spiritualized.

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