The music scene in Minnesota is as exciting as ever. The state produces some of the country’s most talented musicians, a long standing tradition in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. From Trampled By Turtle’s high-speed energy, to ‘Pert Near Sandstone’s snuff and gruff vocals we thought Minnesota had given us their all. Then, a Behemoth hit the scene and found the perfect medium of steam engine rhythm, clean licks and heavenly harmonies.
Saint Anyway, comprised of the boys from Carlton County – Jamie Kallestad (Guitar/Vocals), Tony Petersen (Banjo/Vocals) and Dane Levinski (Bass) is the latest musical enterprise the North-woods are offering to us all. Their latest album release “Behemoth” (now available on iTunes) is a culmination of years on the road spreading their bluegrass gospel. The experience has allowed them to put together a veteran album in which every detail is crisp, every track is polished and every word is thought out. There are no gimmicks, just great music.
The album opens up with the track “All The Way To Me” which we feel is a great introduction to the capabilities of the group. Rapid banjo riffs, a sizzling harmonica and Levinski’s bass make you instinctively turn up the volume. The soft spoken approach to the vocals makes it easy listening and one of our favorite tracks on the album.
“Thank You, Now” is a groovy tune that just makes you feel good. A track that seems to come out of nowhere and makes you just stop and jam to it a bit. It grabs a little bit from multiple genres and places it in a gin-rag flow. Great banjo break-downs, a splash of harmonica and the heavy palm-muted guitar rhythm adds a great touch. This is the track to put on as you take down a shot or two of your favorite whiskey. Another solid track is White Light (And a Bottle Of Wine). Great harmonies and a honky-tonk style piano carry the tune. Tony’s banjo is again a highlight on the track, the clean picking of the 5-string makes you wish you picked the instrument up earlier in life and started a string band of your own.
One of the best aspects of this album that sets it apart from many others is each track brings something different. Oftentimes bluegrass albums start off strong but by the fourth or fifth track you can get antsy and skip a few tracks for a new groove, rhythm or lyrical topic. Behemoth is a straight through album in that, all you have to do is put it in, press play and step away. There is no need to skip to that one track that you enjoy better than the previous. Tracks like “Its a Problem” and “Love and The Winter” are placed perfectly on the album, breaking up the high-speed, finger pickin’ jams with North-wood ballads that we found are great for late night drives back to your hometown or winding the country roads to get to the cabin. The musicianship still stands out, even when they slow it down, “Love and The Winter” sends you out ready to repeat the album all the way through.
Overall, Saint Anyway has placed experience and talent into an up-beat album that raises your spirits and gets your foot stompin’. Behemoth is a great representation of the talent that comes out of the Midwest. To us, bands like Saint Anyway need to be more recognized around the country. Hard work and love for the music carry this group from bar to bar throughout the year bringing their unique sound to fans all around the country. We feel it is only a matter of time before these guys become a household name. Behemoth blends traditional bluegrass with a Midwestern rhythm that is sure to get your night going. Along with picking up the latest, we highly recommend catching up on your Saint Anyway repertoire by purchasing their first round of releases, Paper Train, Two and Here On The Ground. These will give you a little background on how this trio became Minnesota’s behemoth sound.
From a Midwestern Gentleman’s standpoint, we give this album 5/5 Kromers: