12:49pm

Mon February 7, 2011
Song Of The Day

A Hawk And A Hacksaw: Novelty In Tradition

A Hawk and a Hacksaw may be from America, but the band's music sure isn't: Since the beginning, Eastern Europe has been an unwavering source of musical inspiration, not to mention fertile touring ground, for the group.

On its fifth full-length album, Cervantine, A Hawk and a Hacksaw's love of the Balkans continues unabated, but with new songs and collaborators. In "Uskudar," the music finds an equal balance of sweet, sour and earthy sounds with nimble string melodies and a grunting tuba. Stephanie Hladowski's voice serves as a welcome addition to the band's typically instrumental music; here, it rests nicely atop a foundation of busy percussion and cimbalom.

In an emotional bridge, accordion and violin steal the spotlight; both weep passionately in unison as everything else melts away. But misery loves company, and it's not long before every musician parades into the pool for a victory lap. While some artists hunt for more groundbreaking ideas, A Hawk and a Hacksaw finds novelty in tradition, proving that what's new depends only on who's listening. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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