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Blanche: Little Amber Bottles

Album: Little Amber Bottles
Label: Original Signal

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Blanche evokes a time when "neurasthenia" was a widely used term, but without actually using such words. Dan Miller's lyrics shave his stories down to bare conflicts and subtle injuries on the Detroit band's second full-length, Little Amber Bottles. Call it "gothic Americana," but the only detail that suggests a specific era is a billboard in "The World's Largest Crucifix," a dry-witted dirge about religion's decline. Much as the band loves its banjo, pedal steel, fiddles, and melancholy, the album's echoing, bright feel also makes space for some cutting electric guitar and meaty drums, especially on "What This Town Needs." It's best heard with the lyrics in hand—the little details help cut through familiar twang.