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There is almost nothing better than stumbling upon something comfortably unpredictable, surprising, and relatable. CITY DWELLING NATURE SEEKERS have remained outside of the maze of mediocrity that swallows so many bands trying to reconcile traditional American musical ideas in a modern frame. Their dual-message moniker evokes familiar imagery that could apply to much of today’s Americana musical droves, but there’s something truly unique about this six-piece band from Pittsburgh, PA that demands attention.
Songwriter Michael McCormick assembled the band in 2008 with drummer/guitarist Chris Parker, mandolinist/vocalist Lee Hintenlang, and bassist Matt Booth. The group learned several of McCormick’s original compositions, which grew out of an infatuation with the work of artists such as Neil Young, Ryan Adams, and the Band. After time and personal discovery between the players, the group’s unique blend of country, bluegrass, indie-rock, and psychedelia evolved into a sound that clearly indicated their connection with the heart, hands, and hips. And people have taken notice -- the band's 2009 EP and 2010 debut full-length album received critical praise and airplay from many prominent outlets inculding NPR stations like WYEP (Pittsburgh) and WXPN (Philadelphia).
The new release The Winter Year continues along the same path musically, but the writing has evolved into something more exploratory, such as the hook-laden opening track “Halfway Home,” or the grandiose string outro on “He Had a Head”. They’ve maintained their ability to perform all of the recording, production and mixing within the band, resulting in a work that does not compromise any of the group’s intentions or ideals. A significant addition to the sound is the presence of pedal steel guitarist Peter Freeman, who’s been playing live with CDNS since 2010. Half of the songs feature his dynamic musicianship, from the warm textures of “Certain Things,” to his sublime lead work on “I Took Lefts”. Another facet of the band’s growth is the emergence of Chris Parker as a co-writer on several tracks. His contribution has added color to the already vibrant musical palette this group offers on The Winter Year.