Wednesday, April 30, 2014


How many so-called roots albums start with a distorted guitar line, and deep Sabbath thud of drums and bass?  Such is the world of Sunparlour Players, the two-man operation intent on turning genres on their heads, plowing under any influence to create a kind of futuristic folk.  Andrew Penner and Michael Rosenthal ("Rosie") make a glorious racket out of everything from banjo to vibes, glockenspiel to bells, just as likely to slap some heavy drums on an acoustic guitar track (For This I Can't Be Sure) as they are banjo on some electronica.  And who else would write a song about the forecast in the Farmer's Almanac, with punk power trio sounds and spacey sound effects?  Take that, Mumfords.

Delightfully, the bare tunes have great lyrics, such as Old Fashioned Face, a hymn to lived-in spaces, familiar places and home sweet home:  "Tonight I want to look into that map that shows your age/You've got an old-fashioned face."  In less ambitious hands, this would just be a nice strumming number, but the Parlour Twins accent the spaces in the first verse with quick electric guitar and drum slashes.  By the chorus, they're adding ringing vibes to the acoustic, and then on the next verse, martial drumming joins in.  There's a ton of great singing throughout as well, lots of fine harmonies and echoed whoa-oh-oh's. It's the juxtaposition of folk sounds and rock bluster that makes this so different, and a fascinating take on the acoustic music renaissance.

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