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No 'Wagon Wheel' Covers 

The Harmed Brothers attempt to dodge cliché


The front men of The Harmed Brothers, Alex Salcido and Ray Vietti, frequently recount how lucky they are to have found their musical soulmate in each other.

"It's a person who speaks your language of ideas and hopefully challenges you to learn and embrace new ones," said Salcido in an interview with the Source.

Paired with brothers Zach and Ben Kilmer on bass and drums, the nomadic Portland band makes rustic string music with pop sensibility. With call-and-response composure between the bandmates and smooth sweeping harmonies, the songs are built in an unpretentious and simplistic tenor, comforting flashbacks to avowed songwriting of the past.

The band's most recent album, 2013's Better Days, has come from the foothills of the Appalachian mountains in Western North Carolina, via Cottage Grove, Eugene, and Portland and was recorded in East St. Louis, Missori.

"It was the first time we had a series of songs that came together to build a single, cohesive theme, mostly championing your demons if not being at least able to live with them," said Salcido. "It's a very travel-centric album."

It's not exactly original—a young, hard-living band writing about their road-dog lifestyle, touting their songs as "tales of love, loss, woe, hard-drinking and the eventual search for redemption." But the vigor and emotion with which The Harmed Brothers approach their music and performance is a cut above and songs like "XMAS is Cancelled...Get Drunk!" and "Moonshine and Marijuana," have a sense of humor sometimes lost in the slow, sad song movement or the boot-stomping hoedown. While the band has its own more rustic and certainly more authentic sound, it's not at all uncommon for it to be shuffled under the Mumford and Sons moniker with bands like The Lumineers and The Avett Brothers.

"Honestly, we're indifferent to it," said Salcido of the references. "Comparisons can get a little tricky. We choose to not pay so much attention to them—or "Wagon Wheel" requests—and just do what we do. It's just better this way."

I agree, the world is better without any more "Wagon Wheel" covers.

The Harmed Brothers

9 pm. Wednesday, Jan. 21

Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr. $5.

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