High Uinta High
By Phil Leckman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday Feb. 19, 2002
Like a lot of folks, Cub Country mastermind Jeremy Chatelain likes Willie Nelson. Can you blame him? From his headquarters in Luck, Texas, the septuagenarian patron saint of prolific marijuana use, tax evasion and outlaw country music casts a long shadow. Albums like The Red-headed Stranger and tunes like "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" are justifiably considered classics of their genre.
Though he had nothing to do with its creation, Nelson's fingerprints are all over High Uinta High. Chatelain, the bassist for current underground darlings Jets to Brazil, has an extensive background in indie rock, post-punk and hardcore, but Uinta marks the debut of this more honky-tonk facet of his musical personality. Cub Country - basically Chatelain, his Jets to Brazil band mates, and whoever else happened to wander into the studio - ride strummed guitars, piano and pedal steel through mellow, breezy compositions that recall both country greats like Nelson and the open, bison-studded plains depicted on the album cover.
Unfortunately, just like mile after mile of open prairie gets old pretty fast, Chatelain's tunes quickly grow somewhat one-dimensional. After three or four songs sporting nearly identical melodies and subjects in a row, Cub Country's charm begins to wear a little thin. Chatelain should have taken a cue from ol' Willie: a strong songwriter in his own right, Nelson nonetheless knows precisely when to mix it up and throw in a cover or two. Still, Chatelain may well be on the right track. When it comes to influences, greenhorn performers could do a lot worse than Willie. Though flawed, Chatelain's debut is still a lot more "country" than anything coming out of today's Nashville scene will ever be.