THE FUTURE HAPPENS ANYWAY, SIX SHOOTER RECORDS
It’s criminal that NQ Arbuckle isn’t more well-known — despite numerous nominations and praise in Eastern Canada, NQ Arbuckle is firmly a cult band. It comes with the territory of playing alternative country; mainstream country doesn’t care for the rougher edges of alt-country, but mainstream, or even indie rock isn’t interested in the more sentimental aspects of the genre. There was a time and place for new alt-country bands to be popular, but there seems to be no place in the 2014 mainstream music conscience for bands likes NQ Arbuckle.
With The Future Happens Anyway (NQ Arbuckle’s fourth album, fifth if you count their split-bill album, Let’s Just Stay Here, with fellow alt-country singer, Carolyn Mark), the group continues the hot streak that started with their third album XOK. However, it does need to be said that this, like all of their albums, is a challenging album. Neville Quinlan is not a great singer, even though it’s hard to imagine someone else’s voice telling their tales of woe, and the imagery and syntax is imaginative and original, but almost intentionally obtuse.
It’s hard to pick out a few defining standout tracks. Each song succeeds in what its trying to achieve. “Red Wine” is a great example of NQ Arbuckle at their most traditional — there are plenty of harmonies, country licks and references to alcohol, and the song ends in a bar fight. “Life Boat (Song for Carolyn Mark)”is probably the most hook-filled song on the album and it is nice to hear how the band would execute a mainstream rock song. “Rotary Phone”fixates on an outdated piece of technology to personify the singers’ unease in a relationship and it’s a classic NQ Arbuckle take on human interactions.
The Future Happens Anyway is NQ Arbuckle’s most heavily produced album to date. The instruments and voices have a high sheen to their sound, and there are many times when other sound effects are incorporated into the songs, but the focus of the interesting stories and unique lyrics is what shines through.
By Kraig Brachman