With the help of Modest Mouse drummer Jeremiah Green and the Postal Service’s Jen Wood, Graig Markel’s latest album is a layered affair, but isn’t too rich for one’s palette. The opening, “Black Mesa”, is a lush orchestral number that draws the listener in. The song brings to mind bands like Under Byen and Sigur Ros. From there Markel revs the album up with the Americana “Knives Drawn”, which has guitars excellently accenting each line. However, he seems to blend the orchestral with the acoustic worlds quite nicely during the dour “Reverse”. At other times, Markel channels the likes of Elliott Smith on “Cascadia”, a sweet and fragile pop number that is terribly short. One song that seems to emerge from the rest is the deliberate “Turpentine”, which is a bit rough around the edges. The same can be said for “Shine Through”—despite the fact it doesn’t really shine. Perhaps the surprise of the record is how well the instrumental “Figures in the Snow” comes off, a guitar-driven tune in the vein of Jeff Beck or David Gilmour.
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