Love and Logic
Gray Fox/Thirty Tiger

Sons of Bill may very well be the Bill Pullman of today’s Americana music scene. Need a talented but ego-free band of everyman musicians versed in the Son Volt/Whiskeytown playbook of earnest, literate, and dead-serious mid-90s alt-country without a tendency to get all Wilco-y and weird on ya? Then call up Central Casting and ask for these five guys from Charlottesville, Va. Although producer David Lowery (Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker) got the Sons to pick up the tempo a smidgen on 2012’s Sirens, the new Love and Logic (helmed by former Uncle Tupelo/Wilco drummer Ken Coomer) for the most part finds them settling back into their slower, more meditative comfort zone. To everyone’s credit, they do this kind of stuff impeccably well, with tasteful guitars and atmospheric steel painting large swaths of the record in gloaming shades of blue and amber and James Wilson’s rich, plaintive voice still a dead-ringer for Jay Farrar’s. But for all the understated beauty of songs like “Road to Cannan” and “Hymnsong” (whose line, “We will look for love and logic in the dying of the light,” lends the album both its name and primary color scheme), there’s an ennui-inducing sense of déjà vu to boot-gazers like “Fishing Song” and “Lost in the Cosmos (Song for Chris Bell)” that underscores just how dull this genre can be when it sticks too close to the script. Sons of Bill are really at their best here when they break form — be it just long enough to bust out a Beach Boys’ (or Jayhawks’) Smile-evoking chorus on the aptly titled “Brand New Paradigm,” or even to go way out on a stylistic limb, as they do on the beguiling “Bad Dancer.” A po-faced alt-country band mixing references to The Odyssey with hooky, ’80s-style synth pop may not sound logical, but it’s refreshingly easy to love. — RICHARD SKANSE

LSM-GetItNow-large copy