Portland Phoenix

What happens when a great alt-country band like Gunther Brown adds the frontman (Greg Klein) of another great alt-country band like Dark Hollow Bottling Company? Judging by the brand-new “Heartache and Roses,” Gunther’s third full-length release, some damn good things. 

For fans of the Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo, and the Old 97s, this band quite simply nails existential despair like no one else going in Portland right now. Greg Klein’s “The Crossing” opens with paired vocals in constant harmony like you dream about (and that have made Ghost of Paul Revere so attractive) and aching ennui: “And I dream sometimes about outer space / Alone in the stars.”

Pete Dubuc’s “Slow Me Down” has a lot of Mark Knopfler in it and features a lovely echoing “we’re here” that sorta makes you wish this six-piece had a woman in it to balance the backing vocals at least.

But “Garden” is maybe the most pointedly despairing: “I’m just another man who picked you up and let you down again.”

It’s been a while since alt-country ruled this town, but Gunther Brown have created a sound you can wrap yourself in to ward off the cold and help you truly wallow in the dark nights – and times – we inhabit.

— Sam Pfeifle