Iron & Wine Weed Garden

Iron & Wine Weed Garden
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Coming almost precisely one year after their previous release, the formidable, Grammy-nominated LP Beast Epic, it's easy to look at Iron & Wine's newest effort as a smattering of songs that weren't quite up to their former album's snuff. And while that's somewhat true, the comparably humble Weed Garden, a six-song EP of previously unfinished material, nevertheless feels like Iron & Wine in their truest form — honest, naturalistic, charming.
 
The offbeat call-and-response of "Last of Your Rock 'n' Roll Heroes" blends the band's folk stylings with free jazz and spiritual overtones. Later, album closer "Talking to Fog" forms a perfect structure, complete with a whispered opening, turbulent climax and wistful end to Weed Garden's brief runtime.
 
Although it may be impossible not to compare it to its most immediate predecessor, Weed Garden becomes, as a result, a quaint coda for those fans wanting a little bit more of Iron & Wine's signature sound. (Sub Pop)