The Turkeys' tunes pull on the ear like a slow, sucking magnet. With Every Night's the Same, released in late 2007, Chris Cusentino (bass, guitar, vocals) and Kyle Knapp (drums, guitar, vocals) lead the flock, easily leaping through genres.
Maintaining positive energy, they glue diverse songs together. In the end, though, the stripped apart sound flies back into a pleasantly tricky, laid-back wholeness. Like a swing, a falling feather, a hammock.
"These Shaky Hands" stands alone as a bursting single with sweet, strikingly soothing harmonies as effortless as Simon and Garfunkel's. The tune is breathy, rolling out like a newly paved road. "Exception to the Rule" swaggers out in bare Blues style, while "The Jester" is a sparse, raw tune relying on acoustics and vocals.
Expect hints of Country, humorous Indie Rock and much more meshed with lyrics untainted by abstraction. The production is excellent -- clear, but still as soulful and genuine as a wet, teary eye. Dripping with older influences, The Turkeys put out well-written songs that embrace musical differences, packing them inside smart melodies.
"It sounds like we're jumping from genre to genre," Cusentino says. "Herb Peterson is one of my heroes. His first solo album is like that. You could say it's inconsistent or you could say it shows his versatility."
The band is an inclusive, ever-changing bunch. Currently, Harold Kennedy plays lead guitar and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra players Paul Patterson and Sylvia Mitchell bring the string section. Among other guests, Jake Speed makes appearances, contributing vocals to "Ohio River."
"People ask me about (the revolving-door lineup)," Cusentino says. "They see different people, but the band is bigger than the people in it. It's about the music. The sound is shaped by the personnel. Throw in a guitar player like Harold -- he has a strong presence. He's gonna be the star of the show. Paul and Sylvia, same thing. The musicality is gonna move in that direction. There's quite a pool of musical talent here."
With Cusentino and Knapp, the two voices are so similar it's hard to tell the difference, a crafty vocal combo that intertwines, creating a gentle air. Often, it sounds as if it's one man divided in two.
"Kyle's got such a sweet, soft voice," Cusentino says. "A fantastic harmony singer. I saw him play solo and realized we played the same stuff: The Hollies, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles. I was introduced to Country Rock like The Byrds, Merle Haggard and Gram Parsons. Such a broad list. Give Kyle the credit for the Indie Rock. I'll take credit for the Country Rock."
As for the future, Cusentino makes it sound bright and prolific: "We've got another album full of originals. I'm interested in pushing it as far as we can. One thing I'm happy about ... to me, the idea is that it's listenable. As a whole CD, I wanted to make it so that one song flows to the next."
A certain movement carries this music. A sway. A lingering handshake, a pressing walk through a wheat field, parting a yellow path. The Turkeys move from style to style like wind pushing through light rain drops, giving each one direction.
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