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Arbouretum
Long Live The Well-Doer
Box Tree Records
www.arbouretum.com


The first track of this album is what one might expect to hear while a far-eastern band tunes up; a little jangly and tinny twang, like the familiar strum of a sitar. The second track is a near-perfect synthesis of late-80s, early-90s R.E.M. which I half expected the rest of the album to be. Fortunately, Arbouretum seems to have used that as merely a starting point from which they push their music to move along a somewhat twisted but easily-traveled path. It is a pleasant listen that faintly stirs the soul, but won't exactly rattle your world. One of the borrowed affectations of this music that continues throughout is the stoic, anti-emo, or maybe mono-emo drone reminiscent of the old R.E.M. that will provide the needed "sigh of life" that some listeners seek from their music - or merely aggravate those who need to be put through the emotional wringer. I tend to think of this stuff as "desert music"; a form that evokes a bleak reflection of spartan plains where one does not seek the beauty of domain's lush detail, but the grandeur of distant horizons etched into the canvas of a big sky.

Long Live the Well-Doer is an introspective album that mopishly plods along, but the band's talent for songwriting, vocals and instrumentation are all adept enough that I think it could be enjoyed even by those who aren't the most appreciative of this particularly melancholy style (like me). It contains the folksy simplicity of Inouk's No Danger, but isn't quite as stylistically multi-dimensional or wide-ranging. This gives a little rise for concern regarding future endeavors if the settled-in style that the album eventually arrives at is the end of Arbouretum's attempts to shape and evolve their sound. I personally, however, would like to think that this is just the beginning of a long, slow and successful burn.

-JD

Track Listing:
1. Sands and Sands
2. Jonas Got a Tooth
3. Don't Let it Show
4. I am a Somnabulist
5. People Flock not to the Good
6. Wisteria
7. Early Bird Gets the Worm
8. All that Will be has Become, All that has Come isn't Gone
9. Song's a Seed in My Garden


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Mike Doughty



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