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Pigeon Pit, 'Milk Crates'

Folk punk, at least in part, is about laying yourself bare – just an acoustic guitar (or an electric turned down low), maybe some ramshackle drums and someone yelling about heartbreak, revolution or identity (sometimes, all three topics in the same song). Released on New Year's Day, Feather River Canyon Blues by Pigeon Pit is as raw as it is rambling, but never reckless in its tender-hearted punk songs.

"Milk Crates" rumbles along like a freight train taking a long curve. Singer-songwriter Lomes Oleander chugs an urgent, three-chord progression ornamented by banjo, drums and a fiddle that flickers around the melody – in its overly verbose punk storytelling, Pigeon Pit recalls Spoonboy and Nana Grizol, but the queer twang owes to Lavender Country. "It feels like survival just isn't enough," she sighs. And that's when the band rallies behind Oleander in gang-vocal counterpoint, overlapping empathetic verses about internal doubt and outward defiance, ultimately knowing, "I've been to a world worth living in."

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