Len's Lounge | String Band

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Rock: Americana Rock: Folk Rock Moods: Type: Acoustic
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String Band

by Len's Lounge

Len's Lounge is mongrel Americana - a distinct and edgy blend of country, folk and rock music. Fronted by singer/songwriter Jeff Roberson they have evolved a sound that has been characterized as being Appalachian/punk/folk/folk-grunge.
Genre: Rock: Americana
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Soul Sucker
3:29 $0.99
2. West of the Wabash
5:52 $0.99
3. Green
3:03 $0.99
4. Frisco Beach
3:24 $0.99
5. Miranda
4:05 $0.99
6. Simple Song
3:57 $0.99
7. Time Can't Take Away
2:47 $0.99
8. Shady Side
3:03 $0.99
9. Tennessee By Moonlight
4:11 $0.99
10. You'll See the Sun Again
3:27 $0.99
11. Big Spring Church
5:55 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
For 10 years, three full length releases and a 7" single, Cincinnati, Ohio's Len's Lounge has been pursuing mongrel Americana - a distinct and edgy blend of country, folk and rock music. Fronted by singer/songwriter Jeff Roberson they have evolved a sound that has been characterized as being Appalachian/punk/folk, folk-grunge, alt.country and fringe enough for the mainstream to be to mainstream for the fringe.

Founded in 1992 by Cincinnati, Ohio folk singer/songwriter Jeff Roberson and Afghan Whigs bassist John Curley as a diversion from their two very independent careers, Len's Lounge has become the vehicle for the exploration of Jeff's plaintive and sometimes moody songs. Hanging on imagery and metaphor found throughout the southeast and midwest, the songs mine rich, seemingly unfamiliar territory in what many folks consider to be the geographically boring parts of the United States. Dry, cracked fields, slow moving rivers with deep, muddy shores, gabled homes surrounded by acres of soy fields and two or three southwesterly facing trees...there is a there, here.



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Cincinnati Enquirer

Len's Lounge's latest disc shows band's new dimensions
Len's Lounge's earlier disc, Road Dog, was pretty much a solo album by lonesome troubadour Jeff Roberson. But as the title hints, String band is a real group effort. After countless local gigs, Len's Lounge has coalesced into a solid working unit.

Mr. Roberson's dry, world-weary vocals and downhome acoustic guitar remain the bedrock of Len's Lounge. But with a steady group of players, there are a few more dimensions to the band. Mr. Roberson has wisely kept it low-key. There's nothing flashy here, just simple songs (even one called "Simple Song") played and sung with sincerity.

Annie Winslow steals the show with her "Time Can't Take Away", an alt-mountain song that recalls Julie Miller, and her hopeful ballad, "You'll See The Sun Again." She's a talent to watch. Guests include Ass pony's Dave Morrison, Ed Cunningham, Swarthy and, on banjo, Newky Stapleton.

The 11-song CD ends with the anthemic "Big Spring Church", a slow, hypnotic ballad that gets a psychedelic edge from Toby Ellis' dreamy, arpeggiated guitar.

String band is a portrait of a group heading into some interesting new directions, and fans of rootsy, contemporary music should come along for the ride.

Larry Nager, Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati CityBeat

New Lounge Act
Without a doubt, String Band is Len's Lounge's finest recorded effort in its 10-year existence, from the crispness of the production quality to the richness and proficiency of both the performances and the songwriting. Lounge frontguy Jeff Roberson leads the accomplished band through 11 tracks of mountain Folk that comes across more direct and pure than past efforts, due in large part to the organic, acoustic nature of the performances. The band's current lineup is also its strongest, with each member doing the most with their roles, from Annette Christianson's sublimely slithering violin and Paul Cavins' anchoring bass bounce to the tuned-in guitar/mandolin/banjo interplay between Roberson, Toby Ellis, Ann Winslow and guest Newky Stapleton, which makes the disc's title oh-so appropriate.

Song-wise, Roberson's "West of the Wabash" and "Big Spring Church" are majestic album high-points, guided gracefully by his sonorous vocal presence. The songs, with their visceral imagery (both lyrically and sonically) and distinctly Appalachian vibe, sum up Len's Lounge's strength and power. Besides her savory harmonies, Winslow emerges as a not-so-secret weapon on String Band, with two outstanding songwriting contributions, "Green" and "Time Can't Take Away." Where previous Lounge efforts have had a "gruff but loveable" appeal, String Band finds the band's edges exquisitely whittled into a direct point.

Sponic Zine

A comforting set of acoustic love and loss.
Wilco, the Old 97s and other leaders of the much hyped alt-country movement have abandoned their revolution for a more diverse range of sounds. Their departure opens the door for a country-tinged rock band with clever storytelling.

Ohio's Len's Lounge fits the bill. The five members play darkly organic country rock that evokes as much Carter Family as Flying Burrito Brothers. The band has been together since 1992 but mainly as a solo project of lead singer and songwriter Jeff Robertson. He wisely brings a few friends on board for this release.

As the title suggests, much of the album is nothing but strings -- an acoustic guitar, a couple of mandolins and a big, thumping double bass. However, the band also borrows drummer Dave Morrison from Cincinnati's Ass Ponys, notably on "Tennessee By Moonlight," where he adds a rolling military beat to a Civil War story.

The album opens with "Soul Sucker," a biting rocker with a melody almost stolen from Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" and sarcastic lyrics that belong on those lists of country lines endlessly forwarded on the Internet. Robertson drawls "You make me laugh and cry with your toothless flirtation."

However, he can also write earnest love songs, such as his evocative ode to "Miranda," in which he sings "She's out chasing butterflies in the pale blue skies and that's alright with me cause I know soon she'll see she's the one for me."

His lyrics are consistently entertaining and thoughtful. Not every songwriter would drop "sublime" into a danceable number called "SimpleSong." The low point of the album is "Green," the first song written and sung by Annie Winslow. Although she has a beautifully sad voice, the song comes off as generic country pop worthy of heavy rotation on TNN. However, Winslow redeems herself with two classically lonesome bluegrass ballads later on the album. "Time Can't Take Away" is a forlorn love song for a dead husband. "I never knew my love was only a memory that time can't take away," she sings, sounding like a sad Allison Krauss.

In lyrics and music, "String Band" mines the rich traditions of the Midwest and the Southeast for a comforting set of acoustic love and loss.


Len's Lounge play very solid, catchy country songs.
It's called String Band because all of the instruments on it, save the drums, are string instruments. Guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, violin... there's a whole smorgasbord of strings that are plucked and rubbed on this album. Len's Lounge play very solid, catchy country songs that boast a nice blend of both the old-timey and the more modern, upbeat country styles.
"Soul Sucker" is a particularly memorable track; its solid chorus is one that will get you humming along upon first listen. "West of the Wabash," meanwhile, is a bittersweet, forlorn piece with an elegant, endearing mood. "Miranda," on the other hand, is a bit of a bland track, and "Simple Song" ends up becoming tedious after multiple listens, but could be fixed with a bit more focus put on the nearly inaudible violin part.

Len's Lounge's music is a very nice brand of country, and String Band shows off the band's fantastic performing and songwriting talents well. The majority of the songs on this album are real winners, with a terrific western feel that should appeal to country and bluegrass fans everywhere. The only problem is that some tracks can drag a bit with repeated listens, and this ruins the disc's flow (an example is "Miranda," which can become quite monotonous.) Improving the flow by paring down some of the less spectacular tracks will help the band on their next effort.

Overall, this is a very solid country release that boasts a lot of positive elements. If you enjoy country music, or are just a newbie who's looking to explore the modern scene, Len's Lounge's String Band will doubtlessly make a worthy purchase.

Splendid EZine

They'll show you what a steady picking hand can do.
Last year, when I happened to be in Chicago, I met up with Splendid editor extraordinaire George Zahora, and the two of us ruminated a bit on what has changed in our musical tastes as we have aged. Mr. Zahora made the rather piquant observation, when we were discussing our mutual fondness for country music, that one of the reasons he was more likely to go see a country band he had never heard than an unknown-to-him punk/indie/electronic or other band is the sort of base-line musicianship one is virtually guaranteed by a band's inclusion in the genre. If you go to see a newly-minted country band, the likelihood of their being all attitude and no substance is lessened, simply because there is an unspoken understanding that, however DIY your band is, there's no such thing as a country band without chops.
It's precisely this fact that makes it easy to forget how much better the musicians in a band like Len's Lounge are than the vast majority of their rock-and-roll peers. However, that forgetfulness doesn't excuse missing a country/bluegrass record as finely crafted as String Band.

While, as the title suggests, Len's Lounge is indeed composed of stringed instruments only, the album also features the talents of a guest drummer. While the whip-crack snare of "Soul Sucker" isn't technically vital, it's a perfect addition to the close harmony and smooth violin line that carry the tune. On "West of the Wabash", the perfect nuance is delivered by a classic banjo line (also a guest musician). Lead vocal duties are handled by gravel-voiced Jeff Roberson and the dulcet tones of Annie Winslow, both of which are beautifully expressive and rich.

The songs range from wistful to sassy, "drinkin' and cryin'" to "I don't need you". There are songs about travelling and songs about never wanting to leave. While none of these subjects is radically new to the genre, they still have plenty of legs when played with conviction and skill -- two qualities Len's Lounge has in spades.

The album ends on the hauntingly beautiful "Big Spring Church", a song that resonates long after it's over. Check out this string band. They'll show you what a steady picking hand can do.