Not An Airplane – “It Could Just Be This Place” (2012, Indpendent)
A twisted, tasty morsel of what alternative country should always strive to reach, Not An Airplane, led by the balls by Nick Shattell, shows that music doesn’t need to be distilled to the barest common denominator to have something worth saying. A Kentucky-fried bluegrass-pop opera consisting of two single-song fifteen-minute acts (“Speak In” and “Speak Out”), the album distills a relationship from start to finish in all its gory glory (or as Rolling Stone puts it: “operettas of heartbreak autopsy” — take that, CSI!). It’s a whirlwind of frantic bare-bones introspection. Imagine the Drive-By Truckers pairing up with Drag The River with a libretto written by Jack White and you’ll go into the listening experience at least mildly prepared. Beyond that it’s impossible to put into mere words how much fun will come from repeating this pair of brilliantly conceived songs until your speakers break or your neighbors break the door down demanding just who the hell you’re listening to. It Could Just Be This Place is daring songwriting from a band not content with the status quo, and if there’s a more fitting way to start 2012 from a musical standpoint, I sure haven’t found it yet!