Following the dark digicoustical tone poetry of 2004's “Heron King Blues,” the new album comes closest to Red Red Meat than anything Califone has done in the eight years since leaving that band be

Why does it seem lately as though gear theft happens only to the most progressive, forward-thinking rock bands (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., etc)? Then you have the case of Califone, a band famously known for its utilization of rare, hard-to-find old-timey instruments reprocessed through a digital eye, who had its stuff swiped on its last national tour. But instead of letting the loss get the best of it, Califone does its thing on a whole new set of noise makers and comes back with its most cinematic album to date. Following the dark digicoustical tone poetry of 2004's “Heron King Blues,” the new album comes closest to Red Red Meat than anything Califone has done in the eight years since leaving that band behind. Who would have thought you'd hear actual hooks on a Califone LP, but they're here in full effect, be it the fuzzy, freaky opening track "Pink and Sour" or the epic "Black Metal Valentine", which features a reprise that flirts dangerously close to vintage Who. There's even a cool cover of Psychic TV's "The Orchids,” the song that inspired frontman Tim Rutilli to record this most excellent album in the first place. -- Ron Hart