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Quinn the Eskimos?

Easygoing Athens rock group the Eskimos selected their ill-fitting moniker for an unusual reason. "I wrote down about 300 names on a piece of paper," recalls guitarist/vocalist Drew Sinclair, a transplanted Canadian, "and finally chose the Eskimos because it didn't give any indication of what we sound like. I didn't want to call us the Smoking Guns or something rock 'n' roll like that."

Although the Eskimos won't be mistaken for a metal band, there are plenty of rock sounds — delivered with a heavy folk influence — on their just-released debut CD, Let it Come Down. Tunes such as "Milk & Cigarettes" and "Olde Tyme Ways" could nearly pass for lost tracks off Bob Dylan and The Band's classic The Basement Tapes. Sinclair, however, disputes this comparison.

"That's what I listened to when I was 16 or 17, but I don't think we sound the same as them," he says. "We have a much broader range of influence. The group I think we resemble the most — not necessarily sonically, but in terms of intent — would be Buffalo Springfield. I love what they were trying to do and I know we've got it in us to do that if we keep moving forward."

The Eskimos have moved forward rapidly since playing their first show in July 1998 and the quartet will add a fifth member (and third guitarist) starting with their CD release show this week. As for the Eskimos' future plans, though, Sinclair is uncertain. With sly irony, he quotes The Basement Tapes' "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" as he shrugs and says, "We'll just keep on keeping on."

The Eskimos' release party is Thurs., May 31, at Tasty World in Athens; the band also plays The Earl Fri., June 1.??