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Nicole Storto and Paul Knowles have been making music together for more than 15 years. For a long time, they were known as Mars, Arizona. This is their second effort under this name. More interesting to me, this is their first solid rock album.

New American Farmers
The Farmacology Sessions

Storto and Knowles have been noodling around the edges of Americana for ages, but this effort goes straight back to early 70s pop/rock. Think Big Star with a Gram Parsons or Clapton chaser (depending on the song). In other words, this album sees the Farmers go big.

There's a bit of the ol' Neil Young as well, but on "Just a Note," that tendency is tempered by a dash of the early-70s Neil Diamond melancholy as well. That may sound like a train wreck, but it works perfectly on this song.

I wouldn't say this album renders the past unrecognizable, but I think fans may be surprised by how fully the pair embrace straight-up rock. What was an occasional side trip before has become the main course. I think that's a good thing. The sound on this album is more confident and complete. The songs are strong and confident, and they just burst out of the speakers.

Over the last ten years or so I have come to a much greater appreciation of the 70s--especially the early part. It sounds like Knowles and Storto have done the same, and they have incorporated it into their music beautifully. Quite the ramble.

Jon Worley

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