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Old Canes

Feral Harmonic

(Saddle Creek; US: 20 Oct 2009; UK: 20 Oct 2009)

With Old Canes, Christopher Crisci sounds happy to get away from the stately expanse of his other band, the Appleseed Cast. That energy soaks everything on Feral Harmonic and results in a full-blooded, sweating sound. Of course, Crisci doesn’t move to anything stripped-down here, but the big sounds he makes clatter rather than roll. They’re coated in burrs and rough edges. Cymbals, horns, and keys mesh together into rocky walls for his voice to bounce off of and, occasionally, crack through.

The best stuff here—“Little Bird Courage”, “Trust”, and “Under”—shows the simple song imbedded in that crashing and lets its melody and feeling come through. These songs come alive when you get the jangle of his acoustic guitar and the train-drive of the snare work. Since Crisci recorded much of this alone, you can feel the need for another ear: As the album moves on, the clatter takes over, and the songs that sound so vital up front start to get lost in the storm. Feral Harmonic is a solid sound, and a nice shift for Crisci’s instrumental talents, but as the songs slip away, as that energy moves from focus to, yes, feral, you might find yourself getting lost, too.


Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.

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