Full disclosure: I've never cared much for country music. For one, it may be the least psychedelic music this side of ska (lack of psychedelic potential in a genre matters a lot to me). For another, as a godless, urban liberal, I can't abide most country music fans' political and religious views. Finally, the genre's conventions seem almost unbearably restrictive. Of course, all genres possess parameters, but country appears to have extraordinarily limited ones, with deviations from the norm firmly rebuked and scorned by hard-core aficionados.
All of that being said, I can appreciate well-crafted songs and deft musicianship, with which country abounds. A regional case in point: Dime Box, five femmes led by ex-Wednesday Week singer/guitarist Kristi Callan. Their new disc, Five and Dime Waltz(Avebury), consists of country-rock (maybe a 75/25 ratio) executed with vibrancy and verve. The band members—Callan, Pam Moore, Yolande Ng, Laura Ann Masura and Edie Murphy—show an affinity for Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton (whose heart-stirring "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" is lovingly covered here) as well as indie rockers like Lavender Diamond. Murphy's fiddle and mandolin embellish Dime Box's tight, artfully-crafted songs, which seem to flow out of the band with a natural ease. Callan's voice is smooth and honeyed, but not cloyingly so. She can deliver a somber croon or a mellifluous swoon with equal conviction.
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Dime Box are country traditionalists who write instantly catchy tunes. Their album offers no surprises, but plenty of rewards for folks who consider Nashville their Mecca.
For more information, visit www.myspace.com/dimeboxband.
Dime Box perform at the Harp Inn, 130 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-8855; www.harpinn.com. Sat., 9 p.m. Call for cover.
Attention Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, along with your vital contact info and a decent high-resolution photo (plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or just be lazy and e-mail your MySpace link to email@example.com.