Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fruit Bats - The Ruminant Band

Tuck the whole big sun into Wilco’s pocket and swap Jeff Tweedy for Eric D. Johnson. That’s how you get “My Unusual Friend,” the first single on Fruit Bats’ fourth album. Its uptempo keyboard plunking, cheerful pop guitar solos, and simple melody is Wilco’s Summerteeth all over again. The rest of the album stretches away from the mold, though, with harmonies and mellowed-out steel guitar that feel like summer in the ‘70s. Johnson has recorded with the Shins and Vetiver, a San Francisco indie folk band and Sub Pop labelmate. These influences shine through, with the warm feel of Americana and odd whims of pop frenzy peppered throughout the album. Major-key chord structures give The Ruminant Band an easy, breezy vibe. The title track catches you in a strange place – it’s impossible to decide whether to sit back and succumb to the laid-back guitar noodling or get up and move your feet to the syrupy groove. On “Tegucigalpa,” Johnson wails, “I’ll always keep you warm/I’ll always treat you nice.” Easy for him to say; after all, he has the sun in the palm of his hand.

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