They Shoot Horses Don't They

Boo Hoo Hoo Boo

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John Philip Sousa discovers indie rock and Krautrock, and picks up a Telecaster. Nut Brown, leader of this Vancouver troupe, is perhaps the Duke Ellington of indie rock. He orchestrates his vocals, his guitar, keyboards, drums, bass, and brass with shambolic precision. The result is equal parts Appalachian folksiness, circus oompah, and motorik groove. "Big Dot" bounces along on a Beatlesque rhythm section, as handclaps, joyful chants, and wailing horns interject. "Lowlife" fires horns left and right, building to Technicolor peaks. Brown's secret weapon is that blues staple, the tension between major and minor thirds. But his thirds fall rather than rise, making his horns sound both triumphant and plaintive. The lustily anarchic "Words" suggests Stereolab forced to score Fellini with an acoustic guitar and a drunk brass section. "Three" finds Johnny Cash in the circus at the county fair. Counterpoint and texture are very much at play, but deceptively so. At first, "Concussion" is a dirge over a distant calliope. However, it lumbers into pointillist reggae unisons, as Burt Bacharach backing harmonies jostle with New Orleans second-line horns, cresting to an ethereal climax. You'd be hard-pressed to find anything else like it.

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