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katie-mae.jpgKatie Mae
You May Already Be a Winner
Maggadee Records

Some rock bands imitate their muses, while others fuse their influences to create their own sound. Then others seem to sprout out of the earth. That is Katie Mae in a nutshell. Even though their new six track EP, You May Already Be a Winner is a wide-ranging, synthesis of sounds that is not pure rock, pop, or alt-country. And while the band hails from upstate New York, this is not a ‘cowpunk’ band.

From the bluesy opening number “Two Dollars Late” to the hard-charging closer “Let Me Bring You Down” the album is a mixture of Southern rock and early alternative, garnished with a dash of punk. There are notes of Lynard Skynard, The Heartbreakers, Crash Test Dummies and even the Gin Blossoms. But none of it seems derivative or even descended from any of these artists in any major way. The best description of it would be if Steve Earle and Doug Hopkins were thrown in a blender and mixed with essences of Joe Strummer.

Philip Doucet’s aching vocals give the album a forlorn edge. Gutknecht’s rhythmic guitar and Mark Levy’s intense, driving drum add a special urgency to the record. It is as though the band is pleading with the audience to listen to them one last time, making it difficult to put the record down. However, the album is not without its some pop. “Let me Bring You Down”, while intense in its own way, is breezy and light–perfect for riding in a car or lounging at home after a hard day’s work.

Though it is meant to tide fans over until their next, full record drops in stores, it has its own unique style to recommend to it. While it may not be a masterpiece, it certainly holds its own against other, similarly ranked albums by other groups. Or even the band’s own previous work. If “The Lightning and the Sun” were a porterhouse steak, this would be a sorbet.

Definitely worth plunking $7-15 dollars for.

–John Winn