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Built Like Alaska

In Troubled Times

(Future Farmer; US: 8 Nov 2011; UK: 8 Nov 2011)

The third release from this California quintet had an apparently difficult gestation period, hence the title. While hard times can sometimes inspire great art, here they appear to have inspired fairly standard fare – most of the songs are built upon beds of spacey, acoustic-driven vibes, layered with ethereal vocals that somehow manage to make each track sound cheerier than it really is. (A quick glance at the lyric sheet reveals more than a passing acquaintance with loneliness and frustration.) The opening “Union Song” and its successor, “Antique Love”, are among several songs at the front end of the album that have the listener believing that this may be a walloping artistic success despite its apparent familiarity. Problem is, somewhere around the middle of the record, the thread gets lost and the record devolves into a sad sameness in which the listener forgets many of those upstanding moments at the front.


Jedd Beaudoin is an award-winning writer and broadcaster. He holds an MFA in creative writing (fiction) from Wichita State University and hosts Strange Currency six nights week for Wichita Public Radio. His writing has appeared in No Depression and The Crab Orchard Review as well as at websites such as and

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These songs are an eclectic mix of mostly sad thoughts, infused with small town ennui and presented in a haunting and hypnotic manner.
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