NORTHERN MAGANOLIA can bring a tear to your eye and get your boots stomping on the barroom floor – sometimes in the same song. The Chicago band’s twangy alt-country rock pulses with heartbreak and longing. And you can hear it all over their debut album, Dreams to Reckon With, recorded by Neal Ostrovsky at B-Side Audio in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village.

The band formed like a happy accident, as brothers Dave and Tony Piscotti’s previous band was winding to a halt. Taking its helm, Rory Miller responded to the Piscotti’s call for an original and unique songwriter. Rory had just returned to her native Chicago after honing her music in Florida. Getting back to her roots, Rory recruited her first bass player and longtime friend, Jerry Rinard. The four fell into place like pieces of a puzzle.

Rory belts out powerful, confident vocals over the driving rhythm of her percussive guitar. While Tony weaves melodic, tuneful, and twang-filled tapestries on his telecaster, Dave adds dynamic snap behind the kit. The quartet is rounded out by Jerry Rinard with his in-the-pocket bass groove and complimentary backing vocals. The group plays with spontaneous maturity as Rory keeps listeners wondering what turn her melodies will take next. Northern Magnolia’s growing audience is drawn to the band’s exploration of musical territory staked out by Whiskeytown, Neko Case and Heartless Bastards.

In less than two years, Northern Magnolia’s hit-the-highway tunes have already taken them from Chicago’s Double Door and Abbey Pub to venues across the Midwest. So while Dreams to Reckon With is their first album, it’s just the latest stop in the journey of a band that won’t quit until it finds salvation.

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