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Review: Whiskey Duo – Noise Machine

Considering our current situation in quarantine, there’s something almost novelty about an album that recalls the great outdoors, captures a hearty, celebratory mood best expressed while strolling through a winding forest, or huddled around a campfire. (Human contact. What a concept.)

That’s probably overthinking it a little, but nonetheless that’s the general vibe that Kevin Conway and Chuck Kuenzler of Whiskey Duo bring to their latest release. The pair have been bringing their blend of chilled out folk ditties mixed with occasionally anarchic sensibilities all over New England, and across a variety of singles and EPs. So it’s a little ironic that their full-length debut Noise Machine would arrive at a time of intense anxiety and frustration, with nary a speck of chillness to be found.

In another sense Noise Machine may very well be exactly what’s needed right now. During a time of pandemic tumult, the album is a free-wheeling breath of much needed fresh air, tranquility, and revelry. It’s no strict positivity coach, as its various songs about existentialism, poverty, love gone sour, and even storming a castle(?) can attest, but even on Noise Machine‘s more dour moments, there’s an unspoken undercurrent of hope, and excitement for a better tomorrow bubbling just beneath the surface that makes the record feel joyous and rapturous, dark moments and all.

It helps that for a mere twosome Whiskey Duo knows how to make a festive ruckus out of their bevvy of stoned folk jams. Across the 12 tracks of Noise Machine drums thud, harmonicas blare, whistles toot, and all manner of stringed instruments clang (Featuring guitars, ukeleles, and mandolins as various points) with a vibrant energy that’s palpable even through the speakers. It’s the perfect accompaniment to let the sun shine through your window, allow a brisk spring breeze to waft through, and intermittently switch between pining for tomorrow, and pondering the world at large.

FFO: Nickel Creek, Kurt Vile, Violent Femmes, Wooden Dinosaur
Key Track: “Gotta Be Something”