Dearest, Crown A Single Star, Bigger Than The Universe

Hailing from Portland, OR, this minus-drums quartet (featuring members of the defunct mid-'90s band Harvester), Dearest, Crown are a pleasant alternative answer to the quirkiness that is Neutral Milk Hotel and the Verlaines, except with more of a Rex campfire folk twist. Although at first listen their approach might sound traditional, it is their lyrical/storytelling approach that is like a vaguely twisted yet comically truthful psychological breakdown of human relationships that is the pull in, somewhat like an extremely charming but watered down version of Ween's 12 Country Golden Greats, except conceived by a bluegrass-loving psychologist bent on futility and teasing. An additional feature of this album is the perfectly balanced organic analog recording by Larry Crane, who makes the sound so clean that you almost have to be careful when listening to it because it's like the cleanest sheet of plate glass that you don't see and walk into by mistake. (Lather)