Album: Arbouretum, Song of the Pearl (Thrill Jockey)

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The Independent Culture

The point at which British folk-rock shaded into psychedelia continues to exert a fascination over a younger generation of American musicians, with the likes of Devendra Banhart, Vetiver and Espers now joined by Arbouretum, a Baltimore band based on the songwriting talent of guitarist David Heumann.

Over three albums and a plethora of line-up changes, they've shifted direction and focus, gaining confidence with each release until reaching, with Song of the Pearl, an assured, compelling style. Now settled as a two-guitar quartet, they play surging psych-rock infused on tracks such as "Down by the Fall Line" with the courtly manner of the 1960s UK folk-rock tradition. It's most effectively employed on the opener "False Spring", an invitation to "come along, let's ride together" delivered by Heumann with a stern, austere intonation recalling Richard Thompson, over droney guitar textures that explode into a berserk acid-rock break of juddering guitar noise. It's one of the most startling, insidiously attractive things I've heard this year. If the rest of the album doesn't quite reach that peak, they never stop trying, through the declamatory stomp-rock of "Thin Dominion" and the more delicate, string-laced title track, and coming closest with "Infinite Corridors".

Pick of the album: 'False Spring', 'Down by the Fall Line', 'Infinite Corridors', 'Song of the Pearl'

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