From the start of Cedarland, Palaxy Tracks' fondness for gentle, airy instrumentation and caressing vocals by Brandon Durham is apparent. "The Sediment" starts off the disc with rich overtones and calmly blissful instrumentation. After that subdued opener, the band proves it's not a one-trick pony on the edgier "The Wasp." By this point, the band has already laid its trap to draw the listener in with cleanly executed guitars, steady bass and drums, casual vocals, and poetic lyrics. In the three years since the release of their debut, The Long Wind Down, the band moved from Austin, TX, to Chicago, and the resulting Cedarland marks a heartfelt move to more experimentation and a generous amount of thoughtful revisions of the band's sound. While tracks like "Walking Backwards" and "Posthumous" include depressed and mournful themes, the band's penchant for beauty and delicate textures rises above the urge to lash out in an angst-ridden frenzy. The wave of sound on "To the Chicago Abyss" might very well be the album's catchiest track, while the most ambitious artistic statement might be the piano-based splendor of the instrumental "Good Morning Nurse," easily the riskiest song on the 11-song disc. The graceful "The Awful Truth," about the mourning of a recently departed loved one, provides a lush, radiant example of the grieving process. The album ends eloquently with the layered narrative "Song About a Ghost." Not favoring convention, the band used Mellotron, mandolin, and Wurlitzer organ on Cedarland. Guests on the disc include members of the Sea and Cake, Poi Dog Pondering, and Shearwater. The album's title points to Durham's hometown of Cedar Park, TX. Recorded mostly at Clava Studios in Chicago, the disc was released by Peek-a-Boo Records in 2003.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cramer