CD Review: Baltic Cousins The Broken Horn

At its core, here is a release of honest, earnest, country-fried folk punk. Complete with plucky banjos, watery piano backup, blazing guitar riffage, meandering violin and cello, even some tasteful down-tempo accordion thrown in (interested parties skip to track 9, “Dead Artists), The Broken Horn does full justice to its apparent PNW Americana rock roots.

Thematically, Baltic Cousins’ latest release covers all the bases a comprehensive rock record should. Though at times angsty (“Junk Beach Part 2”), and at times rueful and questioning (“Junk Beach Part 1,” “Dead Artists”), Brad Lockhart’s songwriting seems grounded in the reveling and ecstatic.

Enter “Never Hold Your Breath.” The Broken Horn’s standout single instantly catches the ear with a simple instrumental intro showcasing Lockhart’s killer guitar tone, and a driving sans-cymbal drum beat featuring a set of powerful toms, no doubt lovingly tuned by producer Jackson Long.

But that’s far from all you get out of the song. Lockhart himself produced an animated music video for it, complete with soaring eagles, rustic pine-covered vistas, a loveably blundering grizzly bear, and some life-saving archery. While the cartoony cuteness of the video might not quite match the powerful earnestness of the song, that’s easily forgivable—it’s still charming as hell.

Bellingham punks, your second go-to track is going to be “Junk Beach Part 2,” a robust, thrashy, break-stuff anthem with a distinct early-2000s hard rock tinge. I might be way off base here, but I get a strong Foo Fighters/Queens of the Stone Age vibe on this one. Give it a listen and see if you agree.

With the release of The Broken Horn, Baltic Cousins demonstrates that they can produce a record with the polished accessibility to keep it long lasting, without losing the woodsy sincerity that PNW music lovers long for.