Review ·

Originally a side project, Califone has surprisingly survived underrated year after underrated year. Maybe that's because its members didn't create that "clickable" album -- you know, the one that makes you want to see where each track ends up and what follows. Roots & Crowns has the flow that previous Califone albums didn't. Principle member Tim Rutili is an abstract guy: His lyrics and his tendency for sparse song arrangements have made for a portrait of an artist that is just as iffy.


This time around, Rutili has created a beautiful back-porch album. It is rustic feeling, but unlike previous Califone albums, substance abounds. From start to finish the flow is distinct, and it's likely due to a more "traditional" approach to song arrangement. Rutili's lyrics, though, are still as abstract as ever: Each song seems to trace dream states that kind of make sense but kind of don't.


So who cares if they've traded in a bit of the avant-garde for something easier to digest? It still sounds fresh, and Rutili's voice still seems to make things seem important even if you have no clue what he's jabbering about. Roots & Crowns may be Califone's "coming out" album.



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