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Roots and Crowns

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This smartly-titled album, the eighth and best to date by this Chicago-based group, sounds like nothing so much as the perfect experimental country-rock band that Wilco and Sonic Youth have yet to get together and form. You hear a lot about folk revivals every few years, right? Well, one might say that Roots and Crowns is where folk and blues sounds have gone to start a new life. Califone makes exceptional recombinant roots music which dreamily evokes the Delta mud, Appalachian hills, Big Star country, and the murky ether of computer time/space. The banjos are distorted, the vocals whispered and sleepy. The guitars are deliciously bluesy and the hillbilly banjos drone along, while that junkyard percussion was precisely looped on a Mac. Tim Rutili and co. pull the traditional verse-chorus-verse heart of the rock song apart with childish glee to see what makes it tick, then glue it back together in ways that are just slightly (and excellently) "off." The result is often a sort of thinking man's jam band. It's remarkable a band this good is still playing smaller clubs; perhaps Roots & Crowns will help to change that.


Formed: 1998 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

After the disintegration of Chicago's blues-rock innovators Red Red Meat, the band's four remaining members struck out on their own, initiating several varied endeavors but never straying too far from their home base, or each other. Ben Massarella and Tim Rutili revived their Perishable Records imprint, Brian Deck opened the Clava recording studios, adjacent to the Perishable offices, and Tim Hurley recorded and released his own Sin Ropas project on the resurrected label. Amid the flurry of activity,...
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Roots and Crowns, Califone
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