Califone

Stitches

Dead Oceans

Sep 13, 2013 Issue #47 - September/October 2013 - MGMT Bookmark and Share


Rising from the ashes of Red Red Meat to become a band in its own right, Califone centers everything around the voice of Tim Rutili, who sounds a bit like Mark Kozelekgentle but weathered, as if singing too loudly might break whatever spell he's casting. The music surrounding Rutili is deceptively simpleshakers and horns that rock and bleat in a rhythm that eventually coalesces into something fuller.

Stitches, as with all of Califone's back catalogue, deserves to be heard as an album, and the listener who doesn't is in for a frustrating experience. Califone only employs a crescendo when it thinks it's called for, knowing there's one waiting on the next song, and that the combination will prove more rewarding. "Bells Break Arms" matches a simple beat, some swirling violins, and a piano, but never allows the listener any kind of release. It's claustrophobic music, aided by the intimacy of Rutili's voice. When the band does let loose, as it does for stretches of "moonbath.brainsalt.a.holy.fool," it feels welcome and well-deserved. Stitches does, however, contain some songs that are wholly complete themselves as well as contributing to the overall structure, the best of which is "Moses," a gorgeous slow burn that features Jim Becker's exquisite banjo playing.

In a world of singles and one-offs, it's nice to know a band takes the time and the care to conceive of an album like chapters in a novel, and not stories in a collection. It's not quite as strong as Roots & Crowns or All My Friends Are Funeral Singers, but Stitches is a fine addition to a quality body of music. (www.califonemusic.com)

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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