Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I am coining a new genre name to describe the Raw Beets: garage-folk-funk-experimental-bluegrass. That’s a long one, I know. I wanted to give Raw Beets the proper number of words to praise this EP. In this case, I am going to throw word economy out the window. The whole EP is fours songs and clocks in at 14 minutes. All the songs are so well done (two covers and two originals), that this totally captivated me.
The playing is superb throughout. I like the fact that this is not traditional bluegrass, but Raw Beets incorporates other elements to add a tremendous amount of interest. Mama Llama (Track 1) is a very heavy jam that includes harmonica, banjo, mandolin, and drums to create a really nice song that has an incredible groove. It is hard to listen to this one without moving a body part. This song reminds me of the Nilsson composition Put The Lime In The Coconut. I am not fond of that song, but I certainly am enamored with this one. I think the lyrics are better and more meaningful.
The covers are great as well and have a very original take. I’m On Fire (Track 2) is a well known Springsteen cover and Raw Beets does an amazing job on this song. The instrumentation is different enough to truly differentiate both renditions. The Beets musicianship is impeccable and their technical prowess is remarkable. The other cover on this EP is the Fleetwood Mac song Never Going Back Again (Track 4). This is another song that is technically flawless. The instrumentation is beautiful and very pleasing to the ears.
Raw Beets hail from Virginia Beach, Va and consist of four members: Robb Torgler on banjo and vocals; Chidori Matsumoto on percussion and vocals; Shea Roebuck on upright bass and vocals; and, Paul Anderson on fiddle and mandolin. A real power packed and talented quartet. Although this collection is only four songs, it indicates the unlimited potential of this band. The sky is the limit for this four piece.