Thursday, October 12, 2006

Reviews:: Califone Roots and Crowns

There were a lot of well hyped releases (Cold War Kids, The Awkward Stage) this week that I wasn’t really interested in hearing, along with a few, like the new Portastatic record, that I was. As much as I love Mac’s work, the Be Still Please left me flat, but by in large that might be because of the other CDs getting repeated constantly; the new Beat Radioas I talked about earlier – and the new Califone – Roots and Crowns - to be precise.

I was trying to wait until I got a few more listens to try to put my thoughts about the new Califone record onto e-paper, but Pitchfork has gone and given them a crazy great review. Now, as a result, any review of the record will be tossed into the blogger hype category.

Califone is not a flash in the pan outfit. They’ve been around forever and been overlooked time and time again. It’s easy to see why I guess. Folky, psychedelic songs that combine (perfectly - although you'd expect it to be awkward) weird synth loops and sparse acoustic melodies to create a constant struggle between old and new aren’t really everyone’s cup of beans. There are no hooks that grab you. You can’t simply jump song to song to fill a musical void and truthfully, that is the appeal of the band for me. I enjoy the investment of a well-thought out record.

The album starts with the tribal drums of Pink & Sour. More like a rhythmic spoken word than a folk song, the mélange of sounds blends together nicely. From the first listen of side one, track one, you understand this isn’t just another samey type CD. Spider’s House is much more accessible to the listener, and lets Tim’s voice run along side layers of horns and tonky percussion and piano. It’s these kind of songs that should make you want to keep listening.

In the same vain as the Skygreen Leopards, the band seems ok letting the song be about the journey, not about the destination. They are content to walk through tracks, observing what they see along the way. Sunday Noises is exactly what you'd expect from the title. It’s like getting into a car and driving just to get out of the city. It’s taking a walk in the park to breathe the fresh air.

There are no real verse-chorus restrictions to these songs; there’s not really any reliance on anything in particular. Samples and loops play as big a part as the acoustic guitar or well placed strings. As you fade from the relaxing The Eye You Lost in the Crusades into the hectic loops and percussion of Chinese Actor, you can’t help but be reminded of what Wilco does so well. The songs all fit together, but when you really listen you start to hear that they never tread on similarity. So much goes into each track.

Unlike most people, I actually hope the glowing Pitchfork review gets this band hyped up to Artic Monkeys, Tapes N’ Tapes status. It’s long overdue.

They are playing Vancouver this Saturday – Oct. 14th @ the Media Club. It should be fantastic.
MP3:: Spider's House
MP3:: Orchids

Posted at 3:39 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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