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Roots and Crowns


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iTunes Editors' Notes

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.

Customer Reviews

A Must Listen.

While brilliant indie rock acts such as Modest Mouse, Sonic Youth and The Pixies have all received significant sucess both within and above the underground, Califone has yet to be acknowledged as it rightly should be: one of the genres preimer acts in regard to both genius, talent and inovation alike. Here with their brand new release Roots and Crowns, Califone combine a seemingly endless amount of instrumentation - from violins and african drums, to guitars ranging from post-modern space noise to good old fashioned mid-western acoustics, the men from Califone are by no means shy in the art of experimentation. And lets not dismiss the vocals as anything short of spectacular. Employing two distinct singers, Califone makes use of harmonizing throughout the album; and, as they guide this listner from start to finish, their smooth, warm, southern rock spiked with a slight drawl vocals gives this album a taste unlike any other. As for infulences, Captian Beefheart and Modest Mouse are both present - and, alike the two, Califone paints their picture with the premise that music just may sound its best when fashioned in form of a story - a journey even. The songs on Roots and Crows are all journeys in themselves, never needing to rely on a catchy choruses to arrest the listeners attention. This seemingly formless approach makes each track fresh and mysterious with each listen, a musical quality few bands can boast. As for songs that stand-out, I refuse to name any, as this album needs to be embraced as a whole. For any and all of you desiring something new and brilliant from the somewhat staggering genre of indie rock, search no furher. Roots and Crowns is here.


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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