The Last Bison


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Inheritance, the major-label debut from Chesapeake, Virginia-based indie folk outfit Last Bison, falls somewhere between Fleet Foxes' expansive, harmony-drenched chamber pop, Mumford & Sons' stadium-blasted folk-rock, Hem's measured, rural Americana, and 16 Horsepower's penchant for turning even the most innocuous lyric into a crossbow bolt of fire and brimstone. On paper, the band, which boasts a cellist, a violinist, and two sets of siblings, the Benfantes and the Hardestys, the latter of whom include their mandolin, banjo, and guitar-slinging associate pastor father, sounds positively sepia-toned, and while there is most definitely a patina of dust and smoke that permeates every nook and cranny of this stoic and spirited collection of self-described "mountaintop chamber music," it never feels like anything other than a 21st century indie folk record, all gang vocals, swelling strings, and implied high-fives. As one would expect from the group's non-secular pedigree, penchant for old-world colloquialisms, and love for Civil War illustrations, faith plays a large role on the 11-track collection, and while it's not as shapeless and generic as it is in the Mumford camp, it never comes across as proselytizing. In fact, at its best (the feverish and intoxicating "Switzerland," the movie trailer-ready "Quill," and the dusk-lit "Autumn Snow"), Inheritance sounds like a born-again Avett Brothers fronted by a tamer Daniel Smith (Danielson Famile), and while its homespun, home-schooled theatricality may be a bit off-putting for some, it's hard to not admire its uncalculated exuberance.

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