Pinetop Seven

The Night's Bloom

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It's been five years since Chicago-based folk/Americana/orchestral pop collective the Pinetop Seven released Bringing Home the Last Great Strike, a record that sounded to many ears like a swan song. It turns out that vocalist/songwriter/bandleader Darren Richard and his rotating ensemble of multi-instrumentalists were only hibernating in the studio. Night's Bloom, the group's fourth full-length collection of new material, contains more of the spooky, poignant, and unsettling Northern gothic pop that's been their muse for the past ten years, but this time around, Richard and company have birthed a true thing of beauty. Beginning in appropriate Pinetop fashion with a short instrumental that wouldn't sound out of place on HBO's Deadwood, Bloom then takes its title literally, branching out in every direction and using every instrument within reach to craft the kind of Midwest alternative country tome that groups like Okkervil River and Calexico have only hinted at. One listen to the familial strings and banjo romp "Born Among the Born Again," the Salvation Army Band-kissed "A Mouthful of Expensive Teeth," or the epic road trip "A Page from the Desert" is enough to fuel a hundred winter fires.

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