With almost a decade of performing and recording in one configuration or another, Eastern Iowa-based band The 100S have been delivering their signature sound in what has been described to suit the musical landscape in these parts as "Rural Route Rock". Infused with a solid rock feel, the songs of The 100S continue to explore the depths of life, tragedy, love and heartbreak with a candor that fits in with the band's small-town Iowa surroundings, while making the stories contained therein accessible to every listener with well-crafted vignettes about everyday living and those who live it. The band's second album, "Echoes", is a sonic departure from their first endeavor ("Take The Gravel Home", 2005). Trading in the fiddle-and-dobro accompaniment prominent on the first disc, the new album has an edgier tone and prominently features the pedal steel guitar work of newest 100S recruit Vern McShane, who, despite being best known for his Texas swing-influenced style, has mastered the art of chameleoning his sound onto the backdrop of several genres explored on 'Echoes', including country rock, alternative country, and even pop musings reminiscent of early Wilco, as well as the signature 100S folk-rock style. Resting on a rock-solid groove anchored by long-standing members Ken Kemper (bass) and Tim Looney (drums), there's some stretching out going on here that takes this CD beyond the sound that defined the first album. Cello, piano and Hammond organ join the banjo, mandolin and guitars to give the album a broader palette. If there's anything this band has learned from it's years of absorbing the approaches of such folks as Alejandro Escovedo, Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy and Wilco, Jay Farrar and Son Volt, The Jayhawks, Joe Henry, Jason Molina, The Drive-By Truckers, The Band and so many others, it's that the only boundaries that exist in your music are the self-imposed ones. It's still unmistakably 100S music; nothing's been pitched out with the bath water - just allowed to lean in a different direction. The band has seen it's share of lineup changes over the years, with as few as two and as many as seven players gracing the stage at any given time. The band has found it's stride with this release to render a result that enjoys a comfortable feel to the whole-band vibe. The writing team of Jeff Schmidt and Dave Pedersen deliver stories mined from the depths of imagination and introspection. With rhythm guitarist Schmidt's carefully chosen chord-and-tempo framework and lead vocalist Pedersen's metaphoric lyrical whims, and complemented by individual bandmates' instrumental contributions, "Echoes" is the logical next stretch into the extents that The 100S felt a need to continue exploring in 2008. Producer and guitarist Pete Raine was once again at the board mixing the new tracks, at the new Flying Tractor Recording studio in Eastern Iowa. The process of building a song in this band has always largely been a democratic one - at least, as much so as a band with six members can boast. As such, the decision-making about what goes into an album of twelve original songs can be at once a wealth of helpful feedback, and a high-wire juggling act, usually in the same moment. The boys are pleased with the results. They're keeping their fingers crossed that you will be, too.
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