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Smokin' Contra Band 

Slim Pickins (CBC)

CBC Studio H has played host to many local artists' album-making. Smokin' Contra Band checked in as one of the latest to work with producer Glenn Meisner and Patrick Martin, who records and mixes. The Meisner/Martin sound favours a polished, balanced mix. On Slim Pickins, the ragged edges of a fun, feisty folk/traditional band disappear. Too often Smokin' Contra Band sound restrained, sewn up too tight, when they're likely not playing that way. Take the second track, "Pig in the City," for example: While it's a searing song about growing condo-gentrification, commercialization and political machinations that pivots on Amy Lounder's excellent voice and fiddle-playing, the anger of the allegory is lost. All types of tone (room, instrumental, emotional, whatever) have to sync up.

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