Maybe it’s all the barbecue and Cheerwine, but North Carolina bands age better than others. After 30 years, the original lineup of The dB’s is back together and, like their Tar Heel brethren like Superchunk and Polvo, their new album, Falling Off the Sky, is not nostalgic fan service.
Vocalist, guitarist and song writer Peter Holsapple wastes no time brushing off the past. “You better wake up, wake up, wake up! That time is gone,” he sings on the energetic, bluesy opening track, “That Time Is Gone.”
Falling Off the Sky switches back and forth between Holsapple’s songs and songs by Chris Stamey, the group’s other guitarist and vocalist. Stamey’s first track, “Before We Were Born,” alternates between coarse guitar lines and a polished, incredibly catchy chorus.
Drummer Will Rigby takes the lead on his own “Write Back” and it’s the best upbeat track on the album. The song seamlessly transitions through time changes and uneven phrases. It’s fearless and compelling pop.
Holsapple’s and Stamey’s best moments are when they slow things down. Stamey’s gorgeous “Far Away And Long Ago” juxtaposes bowed violin and plucked guitar and easily conjures up romantic images.
Holsapple’s “She Won’t Drive in the Rain Anymore” is reason enough to own Falling Off the Sky. The country-flavored ballad is the wrenching story of the Holsapple family’s departure from New Orleans after Katrina. As he sings about his wife driving until “the miles ran out of road”, it’s most clear: The dB’s are together again because they still have meaningful music to make.
Falling Off the Sky is out today via Bar/None Records. Look for The dB’s this fall at the Hopscotch Music Festival.