CD review

By Written by Shane Handler
September 02, 2009

While many recognize Reid Genauer as the former front-man of Strangefolk, he’s built up arguably just as durable catalog of songs with his present band - Assembly of Dust. Where their last album Recollection, was rooted in pure Americana, Some Assembly Required sports a long list of interesting collaborators that provides a sense of cross genre pollination, but grasps a cohesive spark. The band even went so far as to call themselves "alt-country rockers" in the press release, which is unavoidably true, as song-craft comes first here courtesy of Genauer’s imaginative/visual lyrics. Although the heady choice in collaborators reflects their improvisational roots, Greg Ginn of punk pioneers Black Flag went so far as to credit the band in the linear notes. Sure Genauer’s tender/sensitive voice could use some gravel, but the man sings with more raw emotion than most street bred punks.

Where prior releases focused the band and its chops, Some Assembly is geared towards song-craft and collaborators, from David Grisman’s tinkling mandolin on “Cold Coffee” to Bela Flecks’ lively banjo on “Edges.” “Arc of the Sun,” featuring Mike Gordon on bass and vocals, mirrors the band’s commitment to deep grooves that never self-indulge. Keller Wiliams provides some happy gentle licks to the folksy “The Second Song” while Jerry Douglas’ dobro gives the prisoner story of “Leadbelly” a rich and authentic vibrato. An experimental side is tossed in courtesy of John Scofield on “Borrowed Feat,” while Al Schnier of moe. lends some fine guitar licks of “High Brow.” Unlike its namesake, Some Assembly Required holds no throwaways and is a fine crafted collection of 13 songs that hold their weight lyrically, with no shortage of sweet melody.