Half-Handed Cloud Cut Me Down & Count My Rings

John Ringhofer understands the value of brevity. Even though his songs only last a minute or two, there's a lot crammed in there, and they never overstay their welcome. He just says what he has to say about sheep, bees, werewolves or the Bible and then calls it a day. Cut Me Down & Count My Rings features everything good about Half-Handed Cloud and could easily be considered their best release to date. It brings together hard-to-find songs from compilations and limited edition releases that are long gone, and demonstrates what they've been doing during the past decade, with an equally impressive and intimidating 46 songs. Not surprisingly, it's an exhausting listen because of the sheer number of tracks, but it works well in smaller doses. The messy, ramshackle arrangements ooze charm with their wealth of different instruments, and while it isn't hard to tell where they are going, it's still an enjoyable journey. Even though there are appearances from Sufjan Stevens and members of both Cryptacize and WHY?, this is always Ringhofer's show and it is hard not to be impressed by his singular vision and almost endless imagination. (Asthmatic Kitty)