The Snake the Cross the Crown

Cotton Teeth

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Something happened to the Snake the Cross the Crown. Here's the deal: they put out a decent record, Mander Salis, in 2006. Then they went on the road for a year, came home, and made a good record -- in fact, it might even be called a really good record. Taking a huge leap from the plaintive indie rock found on their first album, Cotton Teeth finds the Snake the Cross the Crown landing squarely in mucky country rock territory, and boy does it fit them to a tee. Cotton Teeth is as plodding and weary as an insomniac summer night, and as gritty and wild as an alcohol-fueled all-night bender. It's also very well made -- these songs are built like brick houses. "The Great American Smokeout" and "Gypsy Melodies" are addictive in the way tunes by the Band and Creedence are addictive; it's rootsy, rollicking, and just plain comfortable. Speaking of the Band, "Electronic Dream Plant" has all the elegant, browbeaten loveliness of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Bob Dylan is a touchstone here, too; the title track is made up of the kind of knotted, lonesome narrative that reminds you of Dylan back before he started slinging an electric guitar. Naturally, this isn't a flawless record. The soggy electronic noodling of "Floating in & Out" is a tad fatiguing; it feels a little lost, as if it had made its way onto the record by mistake. One small misstep, however, does not a bad album make, and one leaves this record with the sense that Cotton Teeth is the band's best effort to date -- not to mention an engaging, memorable album in its own right.

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