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Town and Country - C'mon

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Artist: Town and Country

Album: C'mon

Label: Thrill Jockey

Review date: May. 14, 2002

C’mon is a record of minimalist compositions played with great energy and expression. Town and Country are a quartet of Chicago musicians recording for Thrill Jockey records and their hometown is evident immediately. Clearly influenced by the sounds of modern Chicago jazz and post-rock as well as composers and musicians like Morton Feldman and Brian Eno, Town and Country write songs which have engaging personalities as well as seductive atmospheres. On “I’m Appealing,” Ben Vida and Liz Payne’s acoustic guitars reflect a John Fahey-esque depth while displaying an increasing contrast to Josh Abrams' bells and Jim Dorling’s chimes, until the dissonance becomes a mixture of anger and jubilation. Tracks like these retain the beauty of minimalism without sacrificing emotion.

The instrumentation is 100% acoustic and lends itself well to the band’s intricately detailed songwriting. Rather than allowing their extended jams to devolve into escapism, the songs stay focused from beginning to end. Pleasant surprises abound. By the middle of the album, I became fairly accustomed to the idea that something interesting was constantly about to happen, particularly when the lushness of “The Bells” gave way to what I thought of as a cubist take on the work of Antonio Carlos Jobim (“I am So Very Cold”). That track has a herky-jerky rhythm, mostly due to the guitar and bass, and elaborated by an assortment of melodies on the celeste. The cornet periodically interrupts, suggesting rather loud chords. “Bookmobile” provides a pleasant ending, though the piece in no way reminded me of actual bookmobiles, which, unlike this song, do not feature handclaps (at least not those operated by the Akron Public Library).

C’mon is without question worth remembering from the slew of like-minded albums made in or influenced by Chicago in the past several years. It represents a take on the expected sound with an exceptional eye to detail and a talent for execution, as well as composition.

By Ben Tausig

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