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Branches

Grown in You

(Contraphonic; US: 12 Sep 2006; UK: Available as import)

Spacey, odd, and at times appealing, Branches have several musical limbs shooting out at once. After the silly “A Lot You Got to Holler”, the group settle into a laidback gait with “All Appeal”, a folk pop tune that glides without much hassle or any bumps, a bit like Camper Van Beethoven. Dreamier is the more up-tempo and winding “Garbage Pile”, with its soft handclaps and music box dancer-like effects. After a pleasing “Dance a Little Closer”, the band opts for a murky, quirky pop rock nugget entitled “Digital Dance”, which has little in the way of synths or keyboards and vocals that bring to mind Placebo’s Brian Molko. Perhaps the highlight of the album is the slow-building rocker “Loaded Guns”, which sounds like a cross between U2 and Lou Reed and weaves a very fine, intricate collage of sounds. Just as adorable is the soothing, bouncy “Sixteen Hours to Georgia”, which has a trace of XTC or the Beautiful South in it. An album that is strong in ideas and execution.

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Originally from Cape Breton, MacNeil is currently writing for the Toronto Sun as well as other publications, including All Music Guide, Billboard.com, NME.com, Country Standard Time, Skope Magazine, Chart Magazine, Glide, Ft. Myers Magazine and Celtic Heritage. A graduate of the University of King's College, MacNeil currently resides in Toronto. He has interviewed hundreds of acts ranging from Metallica and AC/DC to Daniel Lanois and Smokey Robinson. MacNeil (modestly referred to as King J to friends), a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, has seen the Rolling Stones in a club setting, thereby knowing he will rest in peace at some point down the road. Oh, and he writes for PopMatters.com.


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