Wednesday, March 10, 1999

POST-MODERN ACID FOLK

Posted By on Wed, Mar 10, 1999 at 12:00 AM

Led by vocalist-songwriter Steve Leggett, the loose confederation of musicians that is Ann Arbor’s Buzzrats has hand-delivered the goods with Cartoon Twilight, the group’s sophomore release. Cartoon Twilight is a rough, inspiring ride, skillfully traversing the craggy course between deliberate orchestration and the first-thought-equals-best-thought spontaneity of rock’s most immediately affecting work. The songs here breathe with diversity — from the bar boogie rave-up of "Maybe Don’t Go" to the sticky, slo-mo nostalgia of the title track. And on "Long Blue Sleeves," the Rats preach wearily about "bright shadows on the edges" and "beautiful machines" atop thick twirling layers of electrical guitars that wouldn’t sound out of place in modern-day space rock. Spiritualized, indeed. Cartoon Twilight’s distinct blend of gospel organ, swamp rhythm, avant-noise and country twang hovers loosely above singer Leggett’s appealingly Lomaxian folk aesthetic – creating a mood that’s both reverent to the past and surprisingly fresh. On "Like a Ghost Who Knows" halfway through the disc, the Buzzrats pose the question: "Post modern, now what does that mean?" In the Cartoon Twilight, the answer comes easy, like a big, beautiful, born-again ache.

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