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Boomkat Product Review:
Much is made of Califone's position as a band unlike all others, and on All My Friends Are Funeral Singers that assessment remains true. Their music has its roots in the bluesy origins of Americana yet everything Califone does is underpinned by a restlessness that has no clear-cut allegiance to any one genre. 2006's Roots & Crowns elevated the band's standing considerably, lending their earthy, countrified post-rock sounds an instant accessibility. That trend is carried over to this collection of songs, with the ramshackle acoustic pop of 'Polish Girls' and 'Funeral Singers' being particularly pertinent illustrations of this record's immediacy. Even during these poppiest of moments there's no conventional arrangement policy applied - the guitars sound as if they've been decomposing in a shed for about half a century, and percussion is relegated to a back seat role. Instead Califone deploy a huge variety of instruments (e.g. Optigan, prepared piano, mbira, thumb piano, ring modulators), cradling their classic songwriting style in blissfully unconventional settings. You might think of Califone as Wilco's more experimentally-minded cousins (both bands are from Chicago, for whatever that's worth). All My Friends... is an album that does just about everything you could want from a modern rock record, acknowledging the language of the past (particularly on the all-out hoedown of 'Ape-Like' and 'Salt's culture-clashing bluegrass) whilst making gestures towards something fresh and new, as on the epic ballad 'Krill', which integrates repetitive marimba figures with flourishes of granular synthesis and soaring ebowed guitars. Very highly recommended.