Calumet Reel

You know that old flannel shirt you got as a hand-me-down from your dad? It’s cozy, warm, and every time you put it on, you’re taken on a Proustian journey back home. Now try to imagine the musical equivalent of that sacred shirt, a band blending the familiar with the unexpected to make your heart tender and your ears swoon. That band is the Calumet Reel.

The Bloomington, IN, quintet has a sound steeped in the honeyed sounds of the heartland: brawny rock infused with generous doses of Americana, folk and country. Listen closely, and you just might hear the sultry sounds of lap steel piercing the Neil Young-esque choruses alongside the cheerful trill of saloon piano. Or maybe you’ll hone in on the rich, multi-layered harmonies à la Fleet Foxes, which sweep beautifully across the grittier instrumentation.

Although the band’s self-titled debut release came out just this month, the tightly controlled jams of “Lemon Jack” and single “If I Don’t Listen” recall 1972 more than 2012, a time when instrumentation was melody’s sweetheart, rather than a backup for synths and bass drops. It’s not exactly the most abstract style—bands like Blitzen Trapper and Zeus have similarly nostalgia-rooted sounds—but it’s one executed with admirable levels of beauty and technical prowess and, most importantly, a sense of aesthetic honesty that is hard to come by in the days of commercial rock. Keep an eye on these Hoosiers: They’re taking heartland rock to a global level.

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