My name is Kevin, one of three writers at www.citizendick.org. We are regular readers of Cleveland Scene and have been for a long while.
This album was just released today to an 8.1 score at Pitchfork. Now, rest assured, I'm not a fan of the point system at P4K, and actually reject it on many levels. I do like that there's no particular number put on this post, Chris. I do know that the physical publication of Cleveland Scene gave this a 2.5 out of 4 possible stars, and it begs the question, "When did Cleveland embrace snobbery and where did we all learn to listen to music?" Bluntly, anyone with an ounce of musical knowledge could listen to this album and digest it's dripping influence and purposeful angular changes and stops. Chris, I enjoy your reviews typically, but you're way off on this one. It seems like you heard the album once and slapped this up on the site. On multiple levels, this album deserves an even higher score than it received at Pitchfork. Surely it's not an album to listen to once and review, and if that's what's happened here, it's a crying shame.
If this band "embraced a typical approach" it would be an all-out train wreck for their creativity. "Impressions of the Past," which isn't given a second look in this post, is roundly one of the most unique songs released in 2009 thus far, with a blast of sound from about 15 different eras and genres balled into one linear track. Research into the band suggests that this minimalist approach is required in the arrangement. Lack of sound is equivalent in importance to the sound itself. The abrupt stops. The changes. They're all on purpose and point to a near orchestral understanding of musical arrangement. Brad and Phil Cook, and Joe Westerlund are all music school grads, listening to records cooler than either you or I probably. The tracks that get slammed in this review, "Solid Ground" and "The Darkest Hour" are manifestations of this knowledge and send a damn chill down my spine when heard live.
On a cursory listen, sure, "The Fade" and "Kaufman's" are the moneymakers, but neither of those hit the meat of the record. Nowhere in this review does it hit the inspiration for the tracks (their deceased grandfather) and this is probably important to mention. Another wrinkle in this is the hinting that these three were forced to throw together their own band after Justin Vernon rolled out. This is entirely untrue and the suggestion is inappropriate.
To bring this home, I hope the readers don't get deterred here from this amazing record. Actually Megafaun and Bowerbirds played a killer show at Beachland just before BBirds trip to the Pitchfork Festival. Speaking of Bury the Square, they hadn't played "His Robe" in two years and based off of the request, walked out into the audience and performed it without microphones. Needing a place to crash for the night, both bands crashed on my floors, and truthfully I felt embarrassed that I didn't have cool enough records for them to throw on as we tossed a few back.
As they left my home, they said "Cleveland is a fucking blast and we'll be back here in a heartbeat. We love the scene you guys have going here." I sure hope they don't read this, because it's off by about ten yards from what the band intended. I know I'm a nasty sot in this reply, and please don't take it personally. I just had to say a few words in defense, and hopefully, some people get a chance to read it.
make that "boast." Sorry.
Wait. How can the Stones not boost 4 generations of loyal fans?
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