Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fruit Bats - The Ruminant Band (LP, Sub Pop)

After a hiatus of four years during which he became a member of the Shins and Vetiver, Eric D. Johnson returns to the Fruit Bats to give us another offering of Americana and sun-soaked folk. This time, it appears that he's going to stay for good, as he says in his blog: "After three years or so, Fruit Bats are back in the saddle. I spent the last couple of years playing in The Shins (a fine day job if there ever was one), but I’m back in full force with the first love of my musical life. Songs have been written. Recording dates have been written in permanent ink. To prove that I’m serious about this, Fruit Bats will be touring the west coast of the United States of America. How ‘bout it? Other parts of the country, as well as other nations, will be visited later in the year."

Since the initial inception of the Fruit Bats in 1999, they've seen a rotation of nearly 25 members, believe it or not. In keeping with that theme, The Ruminant Band features yet another cast of characters, of whom few have worked with the Fruit Bats before. Nonetheless, this is a thoroughly collaborative release.

The Fruits Bats stay close to their 70's-inspired roots. It's hard not to hear Neil Young in the guitar on "Primitive Man" and "Feather Bed", or Fleetwood Mac in the opening riff on the title track. Heck, they even reference Three Dog Night in the plaintive "Singing Joy to the World". Not to forget the Rolling Stones-inspired chorus on "Tegucigalpa". A bit of the Allman Brothers Band sprinkled all over completes the package.

The Fruit Bats exemplify a band that is content to create easygoing songs with unashamed nods to the past, allowing you to get lost in eerily soothing indie-folk tunes that will leave you wondering what decade it is.

The Fruit Bats are around to stay for a while, but it's nice to know that Eric Johnson has Other Career Options , just in case this doesn't work out. Somehow, I don't see him as a Swashbuckling Ichthyologist, so lets hope it doesn't come to that.

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