Marramgrass

Tuesday Tunes: This Side

Still with the country-ish music, I'm afraid.

My wife and my parents got together and bought me a mandolin for my birthday some years ago. It's a fantastic wee instrument, and there's nothing that sounds quite like it. The thing about the mandolin is that you expect the music to be either something Mediterranean-sounding, or bluegrass. (If you don't know bluegrass, think country with more energy but even less credibility. I'm pretty sure we'll come back to it on a future Tuesday.)

When I first picked up the mandolin, one of the names I came across was a young guy (of an age with me, roughly, which at the time made him much younger than the average well-known mandolin player) called Chris Thile. He's kind of like a guitar hero of the mandolin world, but with as much melody as shredding — more Satriani than Vai, if that means anything to you.

Where Thile isn't quite your typical mandolin player, the band he played with at the time weren't your typical bluegrass/folk/country band. Nickel Creek did things a little differently, showing off their bluegrass roots but combining them with much more indie, rock influences.

It sounds good, doesn't it? It does to me.

The title track of their 2002 album is “This Side”, which I first noticed for the great mandolin solo in the middle (once a guitar nut, always a guitar nut — even with eight strings instead of six), but it drew me in to a great track on a really excellent album.

There are songs, many of them, that make me stop whatever I'm doing and listen. Then there are the ones that I can feel, that do something in me. Sometimes it's in the lyric, sometimes something in the music. “This Side” is a tune that makes me stop, close my eyes, and aspire to making music that sounds like that.

“This Side” [YouTube]