Album Review

Lullaby for the Working Class - Blanket Warm

Lullaby for the Working Class - Blanket Warm

Coming across as a heady amalgamation of Blood Oranges (this record is a virtual string-fest), Scud Mountain Boys (the band's informal approach to recording) and New Zealand indie-pop (some very nifty Flying Nun-like songcraft in places), this Lincoln, Nebraska, band distills those very distinct sensibilities into Blanket Warm. From the sun-coming-up strumming intro of "Good Morning" to the closing eight minutes of chirping crickets on "Good Night", Lullaby For The Working Class displays a keen intuition when it comes to arranging atmosphere and setting moods. A sleepy mix of primarily stringed acoustic instrumentation (guitar, banjo, mandolin), Lullaby nevertheless isn't a bit shy about using any musical means necessary to create a desired ambiance, embellishing tracks with the occasional flourish of brass, woodwinds or, ahem, glockenspiel. "Eskimo Duel Song" is minimally backed by violin, trumpet and guitar; "The Drama Of Your Life" throws a cello, a banjo, and upright bass into the mix; and "February North 24th St." employs trumpet, trombone and clarinet. All three tracks are imbued with a wistful and lonesome beauty that tends to prevail throughout the record. And while I kinda doubt that the glockenspiel will replace the Moog as the next indie-rock hipster necessity, its efficient use here brings welcomed glimmers of brightness to the half-dozen songs on which it is used. When the band does rock, they do so in a way akin to maybe Pavement jamming on the back porch; "Boar's Head" and "Rye" both contain that loose, shambling vibe (not to be mistaken for sloppiness) that Malkmus and company are capable of providing in their twangier, less affected moments. Yet another fine cross-pollination of the lo-fi/alt-country worlds.