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A Place In The Sun

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Album Review

A Place in the Sun marks another departure for Friends of Dean Martinez, who travel further away from their somewhat kitschy-sounding early work with each following effort. On their second album for Knitting Factory, the band aims for — and achieves — the filmic expansiveness of Rachel's, the Dirty Three, and Godspeed You Black Emperor while retaining their essentially Southwestern sound. The results sound like the soundtrack to a spaghetti western set in modern-day Arizona, especially on the epic title track, which remains compelling yet subtle over its nine-minute duration. "White Lake"'s scorched guitars, "When You're Gone"'s simple, spacious folk, and the Bill Frisell-like cover of "Summertime" testify to the band's increasingly wide musical range, while the brooding "Broken Bell" (which features the Tosca String Quartet) reveals Friends of Dean Martinez's growing emotive power. "Siempre Que" and "Nothing at All" recall the group's loungey/retro roots, and song titles like "Aluminium" and "Pistola Agua" show they haven't lost their sense of humor, but A Place in the Sun deals more with their potential and ambitions than it does with their previous successes.


Formed: 1994 in Tucson, AZ

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A Southwestern alternative rock supergroup of sorts, Arizona's Friends of Dean Martinez features past and present members of Giant Sand, Calexico, and Naked Prey. Giant Sand leader Howe Gelb, though not a member of the group, plays guest keyboards on their debut album, The Shadow of Your Smile, a surprisingly retro set of guitar-based instrumentals inspired by instrumental and surf rock of the late '50s and early '60s. With plenty of lounge music and desert country guitar twang thrown in, it's certainly...
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A Place In The Sun, Friends of Dean Martinez
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