Review Rewind: Chuckanut Drive-Fidelity Grange
1,405. that’s how many local recordings have been reviewed in What’s Up! over the last 15 years. Some good, some not so good, all offering something to the local scene and in these pages. A review was and will always be a band’s chance to get some press and show folks what they are doing. If a band lives around here, or on a local label, we review it and have never turned anyone away if they met one of those qualifications. Among the recordings reviewed, a few really stood out for one reason or another – it might have been how good it was or the impact it had on the scene or the statement at that time. This issue, we re-reviewed 15 of our favorite records over the last 15 years (and included a blurb from the original review) and talked not just about the music, but why the recording is important in the music scene’s history. Every one of these recordings should be on your iTunes, find ‘em, listen to ‘em, love ‘em. We do.
July 2008: “Excellent, often times haunting guitar work abounds, tied together by tight rhythm section work.”
Chuckanut Drive’s Fidelity Grange largely flew under the radar when it was released four years ago. The band, which had kicked around for 10 years, released this final album before Stephen Ray Leslie, the principal songwriting, broke up Chuckanut Drive moving forward with a solo career.
As if often the case with final albums, Fidelity Grange finds the band at its height of creativity – years and years of playing together and writing had come together to create a wonderful piece of work. Fantastic songwriting and musicianship flow throughout the recording – there isn’t really a loose end or a week spot – it’s incredibly solid.
One of the things that make this album so interesting is how much the album and Stephen Ray Leslie have flown under the radar. Those in the know love him and his music, but those not within that part of the scene aren’t familiar with him at all. He’s unassuming – Leslie just goes about making great music without any fanfare or hype. The music on Fidelity Grange has that same feel – there isn’t anything hugely gut wrenching about it or dizzyingly high, instead it’s a fantastic piece of work that you can enjoy at any time of day or any mood – it’s honest and heartfelt, without pretention or arrogance – just strong songwriting with a good twang. There’s nothing fancy or dramatic about, and that’s why it’s so good. It’s just damn good.
While other alt-country albums will come and go, Fidelity Grange will always be around, almost like the foundation for which other bands can build on. Solid like a rock.