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  Knee Deep  
  Backburner Records  
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One sultry late summer afternoon in 1999, I talked to a friend of mine, who said I really needed to see these two bands out in Athens: Ceiling Fan and Cafeteria. "Really," he told me, "they're quite good...two of the best Athens has to offer."

So I drove down 316 - a divided highway through farm land smelling vaguely of chickens. The land is gently rolling in East Georgia, providing enough variety to the landscape so that you can't see over the next ridge, so that there's some reason to keep moving forward. It was a gray evening, from what I remember - the type of evening that makes you feel alone even in a group. The type of weather where you feel melancholy.

Looking back, that drive is a fitting introduction to the debut album by Cafeteria, an collective lead by singer/songwriter Taylor Joiner. The music reminds me more of the old school country stylings of Hank Williams or Johnny Cash (although there are a few more rock riffs which show up in the solos and bridges). In contrast, the lyrics deal with that stage of a doomed relationship where you've accepted the fact that it's over, but you still have memories that are bittersweet and scars that bleed when they're poked. It's an almost snidely melancholy perspective, one where the venom is muted but still present.

After listening to numerous albums that seem to embrace twang for twang's sake, or use a country style just to be silly, it's nice to hear an album where the music and lyrics complement one another. It's also nice to hear an album that holds up to repeated listens while remaining a coherent whole. A very strong debut - one I would highly recommend to any fans of Americana genre.

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