New Califone – “Funeral Singers” (Stereogum Premiere)

I remember seeing Califone in Cleveland close to a decade ago and being struck by how a seated Tim Rutili and his fellow multi-instrumental bandmates mesmerized a young crowd who was most likely there to see the headliner, Modest Mouse. It was one of those performances you didn’t want to end: Each player clearly had a deep sense of composition, collaboration, and the subtleties that exists in all of that. There’s been something impressively laidback and natural and also rigorously smart about Rutili’s work since his days in the truly great Red Red Meat. You can hear what I’m talking about in “Funeral Singers,” the lead track from the Chicago quartet’s forthcoming All My Friends Are Funeral Singers, a collection that overlaps banjo, guitar, violin, baritone uke, thumb piano, mbira, old keyboards, and beds of electronics. Upping that complexity thing, the album — which follows 2006’s Roots & Crowns — works as a companion piece to a film of the same name, written and directed by Rutili. The idea:

The movie centers around a fortune teller named Zell (played by respected cult actress Angela Bettis) who lives in an old house crowded with ghosts, including a priest, a bride, a mute child, some washed up vaudvillians and a noisy, sight-impaired group of musicians (Califone), among others.

The film will be submitted to film festivals in early 2010. When the band tours this fall, they’ll incorporate the film into the show for certain cities, basically doing a live soundtrack for the flick. Until then, here’s the album version.

Califone – “Funeral Singers” (MP3)

All My Friends Are Funeral Singers is 10/6 via Dead Oceans. It can be pre-ordered starting today at Dead Oceans’ online store. If you do so, you’ll receive a full album download on 9/8 as well as two posters and “Lunar H,” a vinyl-only 15-minute bonus track (side four of the double LP set). As mentioned, Califone are going on the road/are masters of that live thing:

10/10 – Chicago, IL @ Museum of Contemporary Art *
10/11 – Chicago, IL @ Museum of Contemporary Art *
10/13 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Andy Warhol Museum *
10/14 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom *
10/15 – Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place
10/16 – Ithaca, NY @ Cornell Cinema *
10/17 – Montreal, QC Ukrainian Federation *
10/18 – Winooski, VT @ The Monkey House
10/20 – Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse Music Hall *
10/21 – Portland, ME @ Space *
10/22 – Cambridge, MA @ Brattle Theater *
10/23 – New York, NY @ 92Y Tribeca *
10/24 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live
10/25 – Washington, DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel
10/26 – Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern *
10/27 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
10/28 – Birmingham, AL @ WorkPlay Theatre *
10/29 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement
10/30 – Bloomington, IN @ Bear’s Place *

* film performance

[Photo by John Adams]

UPDATE: Bonus:

Califone – “Ape-Like” (MP3)

Tags: Califone