If buzz sold records, Pinmonkey would be riding higher than the Dixie Chicks. Together for less than four years, with just one indie release under its belt, the Nashville-based quartet already has the critics in high soothsayer mode. "This band is a superstar act ready to explode," raved Music Row magazine. "Expect big things, folks," chimed in the Dallas Morning News. The group -- whose name, by the way, comes from Homer Simpson's dream job: setting pins at a bowling alley -- is centered on Michael Reynolds' high, mountain-tenor voice, with drummer Rick Schell, bassist Michael Jeffers and dobroist Chad Jeffers contributing tight harmonies. Pinmonkey's self-titled major-label debut, out next month on BNA Records, evokes the soft country rock of the '70s -- think Poco or Pure Prairie League -- mixed with a dollop of O Brother-style mountain soul. The album's biggest surprise is a countrified version of Sugar Ray's smash 1997 pop hit "Fly." Word is the band sounds even better live than on record. Does Pinmonkey live up to the hype? Judge for yourself.
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