Califone bring the noise, quietly
Califone’s music sounds like it’s perpetually in the process of metamorphosis, as if you’ve caught these songs at the moment when their shapes have just become discernible.
Clatter coheres into order on the seven-minute “Giving Away the Bride,” the first song on the Chicago group’s ninth album. It’s an auspicious opening, showcasing both Tim Rutili’s exquisitely forlorn vocals and the band’s naturalistic rethinking of Americana tropes. “Buñuel” changes shape constantly, from lowdown acoustic blues to swamp-rock excoriation, while “Krill” crescendos steadily from an atmospheric folk number into a sturdy torch song. Each song shows new facets of their sound, from the rambunctious mountain ramble to the organic thrum of “1928” to the chicken-coop percussion of “Salt.” The mood softens on the album’s second half, emphasizing rural ambience as well as Rutili’s peculiar songwriting. But Califone only sounds subdued. On All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
, they’re still pretty wild.