Doleful Lions

Shaded Lodge and Mausoleum

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Shaded Lodge and Mausoleum is yet another hidden gem of richly textured, sophisticated songs hiding in the sheepish guise of indie pop from the Doleful Lions. At this point, singer/songwriter Jonathan Scott and studio rat Dave Jackson are masters of mini-orchestration that can turn any song of their choosing into a swirling snow globe epic. The dreamy haze of "Satanic Blood" and the candy confection beats of "The Extra-Large Epiphany" and "Destroyers of the West" put them in the same league as the Apples in Stereo, the Flaming Lips, and Stephin Merritt. Musically, these moments have the Doleful Lions spinning their wheels in ruts dug out by those indie luminaries, but -- as wry and literate as they can be -- its unlikely that either Merritt or Wayne Coyne would come up with lyrics as labyrinthine as those of Scott. His bent quill has favored macabre, cultish subjects as far back as The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! from 1999, but on "Slip Inside This Gateway" he writes lines that would make the most sinister black metal fan quake. Couched in spare folk guitar picking and distant organ, it carries the kind of bittersweet, somber grace that wouldn't be out of place on Big Star's Sister Lovers. About half of Shaded Lodge and Mausoleum shares that rare essence -- "O Martyr Atlantis," "Watch the Skies/A Boy's Life," "The Ghost That Haunts Your World Will Disappear" -- and added together they make it a record not only worth hearing but one worth returning to as well.

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