While the band's 1999 debut, The Mary Janes Record, No. 1, found illumination in a tightly channeled electricity, its latest record, Flame, captures the thrill of being in a band and making music in a community of great players in and around Bloomington, Indiana. It's an encyclopedic tour de force, gesturing toward noisy psychedelica, strings and steel chamber sweeps, honky-tonk road songs, home-recorded murder ballads and one killer Tom Petty cover ("Free Girl Now"). The startling title track begins with a back-alley echo of "Waiting on My Man" (had the Velvet Underground ever dabbled in fat pedal steel), pauses for a moment in Byrdland and then rises above it all with anthemic brilliance. The Mary Janes' trajectory has really just begun; it's a flight path worth following, wherever it may lead.
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