In case you're new to this planet, quasi-bluegrass, fully bearded jam bands are where it's at — if your destination is a festival where "Shady Grove" gets picked out for the 19,000th time. Railroad Earth has ridden the summer party circuit for all that it's worth (and then some), but the New Jersey acoustic rockers possess timeless-sounding material — a claim that only a handful of their competitors can make. On its last studio album, Amen Corner, the band matches the taut harmonies of peers such as the Old Crow Medicine Show. Its horn-punched basement honky-tonk and mandolin- and fiddle-driven Americana parables, however, nearly live up to influences such as the Band. Railroad Earth will probably play "Shady Grove" if you demand it, but its own original songs are what you'll want to hear the band jamming through the early summer dusk.
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