Union Duke were born and bred in Toronto, but the quintet's sophomore LP belies their city slicker lineage. Sure, country is having a moment right now in Toronto (have you seen how busy the Rock 'n' Horse Saloon is on a Saturday night?), but Cash & Carry still evokes farm life in rural Ontario. It's music for drunken two-stepping or the do-si-do.
Incorporating both bluegrass and country (the stronger songs lean toward the former), Union Duke have nailed down their formula: rapid-fire banjo fingerpickin', heartfelt lyrics about lovers and ex-lovers, stacked vocals and raw electric guitar that help keep the grit intact when it's threatened by glossy production. These five guys are incredible musicians who've spent years honing their skills, but at times Cash & Carry feels a touch too clean and uptight. Adding some dirt and loosening up a bit would guarantee them that drunken line dance they're after.
Top track: Your Old Lover
Union Duke play the Horseshoe Saturday (June 28), and St. James Park on August 21.