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The Sonora Pine

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Following the late-1994 dissolution of Louisville math rockers Rodan, bassist Tara Jane O'Neil moved to New York City and founded two separate bands: the rootsy indie pop duo Retsin (with Cynthia Nelson of Ruby Falls) and the more experimental Sonora Pine. O'Neil's chief collaborator in the Sonora Pine was guitarist Sean Meadows, a former member of Lungfish who'd also joined ex-Rodan guitarist Jeff Mueller's new band, June of 44. O'Neil and Meadows soon added improvisational violinist Samara Lubinski, and played a series of shows around New York. After a break to work on their other projects, the Sonora Pine reconvened in Louisville, this time with Rodan drummer Kevin Coultas in tow, and recorded a self-titled debut album that appeared on Quarterstick in 1996. Although the off-kilter sensibility of Rodan was present, the album had a much gentler chamber ambience and folk-pop influence; it also featured guest piano from Rachel Grimes of Rachel's, the post-rock chamber ensemble found by yet another ex-Rodanite, Jason Noble. Indeed, most critics placed the Sonora Pine's music in between the orchestrated sensibility of Rachel's and the angular math rock of Rodan and June of 44. Meadows subsequently departed the group, reducing them to a trio; in his absence, their music lost much of its rock flavor, growing even subtler and quieter. Their sophomore effort, The Sonora Pine II, was released in 1997, after which the group members went their separate ways. O'Neil returned to Retsin and also embarked on a solo career in 2000. ~ Steve Huey

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