The Neatpickers
'Feverish Hearts'

 by Johanna B. Bodde

The Neatpickers
'Feverish Hearts'
(Lindo Records, 2015)

This is a six piece group from Vienna, Austria. They occupy a rehearsal space in the 9. Wiener Gemeindebezirk, where the heating doesn't always work well. They play Alt.Country, Americana, Roots Rock and Folk Rock. The two founding members Roman and Bruno met each other at a Christmas concert of the local Americana band Lost Compadres in December 2008. Pretty soon they started working together and hit the stage as a duo at various jam sessions and area bars. Local Americana DJ / promoter Othmar Loschy hooked them up with drummer Rob, singer Tine and violinist Claudia, who joined the band in late 2009. Fritz completed the original lineup in spring 2010 and their self-titled debut CD was released in 2011. Roman left the band in 2014 and was replaced by Alex. They list some famous names as their influences: Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier, Dave Alvin, Calexico, Hank Williams, John Prine, Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris. They state that they are playing live as often as possible!

Here it is: the brand new second CD 'Feverish Hearts' by The Neatpickers. I do appreciate the wink in that funny band name, by the way. A nicely packaged disc, there's even a booklet (yes!) with lyrics and all other necessary information. Bruno Geissmann himself wrote all thirteen original songs. Apparently, he came from Switzerland to Vienna, spent some time in Johnson City, U.S.A. and returned to the city on the Danube with loads of inspiration. These are great story songs, painting vivid pictures of LIFE, with all its ups and downs, with all its feelings and passion.

1. "Notice": A very nice introduction to what we can find on this album. The vocals of Tine Widmann and Bruno Geissmann sound magical together in a folk duet, blending and intertwining perfectly. The words are very well pronounced. Images of the autumn are used to describe the downfall of a relationship.

2. "Highway Fever": Ah, now I know where we're going: out with the truckers and the kickers and the cowboy angels! This song sounds very much like Gram and Emmylou's "Return Of The Grievous Angel". Life of traveling musicians: "I guess that coffee black will do if I just keep on singing songs / They'll cheat my body into thinking there ain't nothing wrong". Great country sound and I love the violin parts.

3. "The Prowl": It's good that we live in 'freedom of speech' Europe, otherwise this album would wear warning stickers, regarding the use of four letter words language by this bad boy! Very strong (surf) guitar and a solid rhythm tandem (Fritz Dürauer, bass and Rob Niedl, drums).

4. "Feverish Hearts": The title track, another catchy upbeat melody for a sunny love song. Tine sounds very sweet, I love these two great voices! The violin, played by Claudia Fenzl,
 gives extra color, while the electric guitar adds good texture.

5. "Broken": There's Townes Van Zandt, very convincingly. "Shattered a soul I was mistaken". When Tine joins in, the song gets more of a Chris and Carla touch, especially with the sad violin moaning in the background. "All that remains is one sad song", indeed.

6. "Hate": A Calexico influenced bloody revenge fantasy: "Cause that's how I was raised / Never to forget / One way or the other / You will regret". The violin replacing trumpets in a perfect spaghetti western.

7. "Georgia Rain": Great lyrics, a little film script for a road movie about a couple on the run. He is hiding out in a Days Inn, South of Macon, while she is on her way in an old Impala. The last verse is sung in Spanish and gets a proper TexMex feel with the accordion and even castanets. So I guess they're heading for the border!

8. "Empty Page": Highlight of this song are the hauntingly intense (tremolo) guitar solos, played by Alex Gantz, an excellent guitarist, especially electric.

9. "Move On": Bruno reminds me here of Sid Griffin and Tine is her lovely self in this traditional country duet. "While the little engine puffs / I thought we could" - how sweet! Yes, a relationship is a lot of hard work...

10. "Pea Soup": A very fast funny folk rock song. This has the most European feel. I can imagine how much fun it will be to play this for Carnival, the audience jumping up and down!

11. "Turning Around": This strings adorned song makes me think of the Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush duet. "We won't ever give up" - that feeling, that's exactly what I mean! 

12. "The Road": A road song indeed, with a driving rhythm and a little more of the Calexico influences. "Pull back out onto the gravel road / Hear the engine blast its good bye roar / Past the city limits, let the lights all disappear".

13. "Leva": An emotional duet, we go back to Gram & Emmylou in "Love Hurts". Perfect closer.

Do I have any advice? The Neatpickers would become even better then they already are, if they would move a little further away from their influences and concentrate on developing more of their own distinctive sound. In the meantime is this a 
fine feel good album. The playing is great and I love the voices!

Written by Johanna J. Bodde - January 24th, 2015.