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Album Review

Omnibus collects all of short-lived alternative rock/country-folk quintet Tarkio's material from 1996 through 1999. The Montana collective led by future Decemberist Colin Meloy released one full-length record (I Guess I Was Hoping for Something More) and an EP (Sea Songs for Landlocked Sailors) of dusty pre-Americana college rock in the wake of the post-R.E.M. '90s that managed to cultivate a loyal regional following, but failed to connect on any national level. Meloy's success with the Decemberists ignited a new interest in the group, resulting in this two-disc treatment from Kill Rock Stars that features both releases in their entirety, as well as demos and B-sides. For the most part, Tarkio sounds like a more pastoral, Fisherman's Blues-era Waterboys version of Meloy's current incarnation, with lyrics wrapped in highly literate imagery and the occasional appearance of banjo and violin. Meloy's faux-British croon is more subdued here, but his obsession with Morrissey and Robyn Hitchcock can be heard creeping into standout cuts like "Neapolitan Bridesmaid" and "Standing Still." At 27 tracks, the whole affair could do with a sizable trimming, as much of the material tends to sound the same, but as far as collections go, Omnibus is the real deal, and a Decemberists' archivist's wet dream.


Formed: 1997 in Missoula, MT

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Formed in 1996 in the college town of Missoula, MT, Tarkio, named for a small city in the western part of the state, featured the talents of guitarist Gibson Hartwell, bass player Louis Stein, drummer Brian Collins, pedal steel player Kevin Suggs, and singer/songwriter and future Decemberist Colin Meloy. The band mined similar musical territory as college rock staples the Go-Betweens, the Waterboys, and R.E.M., employing a blend of alternative country and Americanized Brit-pop that won them a small...
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Omnibus, Tarkio
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