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Oblio's Arrow

The genre of Americana is in as much disarray as America itself — but rather than try to impose order on that chaos, Oblio's Arrow embodies it. Drawing from country rock, psychedelia and the singer-songwriter tradition of the '70s, the group formerly known as Oblio Duo + the Archers has used its latest full-length, Plain Old American Mess, to continue its quest for outer spaciness, as well as the inner cosmos. The group's recent lineup overhaul has focused its fuzziness: Layered with loose, porous instrumentation and patches of emptiness big enough to drive a prairie through, Mess is the perfect echo chamber for William Duncan's rumble and Steven Lee Lawson's twang. At its best, the disc is a hazy, gray-scale portrait of a sound — and a nation — that is once again painfully, exquisitely rebirthing itself.