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The Daily Tar Heel

Music Review: The Letter Jackets

The Letter Jackets
The Letter Jackets

Steeped in a bluegrass formula with a robust rock ‘n’ roll exterior, The Letter Jackets’ self-titled debut is not a pioneered effort, but is a refreshment from a group itching to try something a little out of routine. While the album’s formula is recognizable with a short range of influences, The Letter Jackets’ genial style of rock is hard to disagree with. It is a listen that can soothe with a soft touch in the background, or jolt the eardrums into commotion — depending on the listener’s dosage

The Letter Jackets’ members are familiar faces for the local music scene — vocalists and guitar players John Teer and Chandler Holt are members of local bluegrass favorite Chatham County Line. But this is only to be used as a reference point, not necessarily to overshadow The Letter Jackets. Songs like opener “Leaving Was a Mistake” and of “All Alone” showcase The Letter Jackets flaunting its bluegrass songwriting abilities, while layering the tunes in an Uncle Tupelo fashion with electric flair.

While The Letter Jackets’ bluegrass side can be found in Chatham County Line, its rock origins no doubt come from the everlasting spring of rock ‘n’ roll influence: The Beatles. “In My Arms” and “Holding On” are both breezes of light romanticism right out the Brits’ ’60s pop rock songbook while “Falling” could be mistaken for an alternate track on a Tom Petty album.

These influences are obvious, but mesh well for The Letter Jackets relaxing but invigorated drive. But the ride runs off the road with the cheesy closer “Keepin’ It Together,” where the band seems to mimicking a ZZ Top cover band for some bar’s open mic night.

The Letter Jackets’ debut isn’t consistently a golden album, but its gems shine through the more forgettable moments.

Charlie Shelton

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The Daily Tar Heel's 2024 Music Edition