Death has served as a creative muse ever since mankind started dying. Check out those primitive drawings scrawled on cave walls and you'll see stick figures lying prone as other stick figures mournfully stand above them. Chicago's Scattered Trees were all but broken up when frontman Nate Eiseland got them back together following the death of his father. Sympathy, the album that came out of Eiseland's grief, obviously isn't a celebratory record, but it isn't necessarily a depressing one either. It's heart-on-sleeve emotionalism, dripping one cherished memory at a time. Opening with the dirge-like "Bury the Floors," Sympathy never really picks up speed, even as Scattered Trees move among indie rock, folk rock, and whatever kind of rock goopy bands like the Fray play. Being alive is way more fun. — Gallucci
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