Ryan Lowell for State of Mind Magazine
When recording a follow-up, bands have to balance new directions with the formula that made them loveable in the first place. Sat., Cloudy, Calm, 36F, 10:44 P.M. balances the two effortlessly, because for Farm, radical changes in sound are the formula. Spanning 42 minutes, three vocalists, several genres and countless instrument swapping, Farm's follow-up to 2008's The Cave packs layers of sound into 11 tracks. 10:44's schizophrenic mood swings can be exhausting to unpack in one listen, but it's incredible hearing how much ground these dudes can cover in three quarters of an hour.
The Cave opened with "Bulls," a loss of innocence tale, but 10:44 dismisses worries that Farm have fully succumbed to adulthood, as its first track "Overgrown" contains the mantra "if I grow to be an old man, wish me luck I guess." "Diamonds" follows, replacing "Bulls'" naiveté with a sarcastic nugget of real world wisdom, "kindness alone won't cut it, maybe a diamond will." "River to the Ocean" comes next, boasting a riff that sounds like "Epistle to Dippy" if Donovan was playing it right before he kicked your ass and shot-gunned a beer, instead of taking a bunch of acid and frolicking through the meadows.
10:44's experimental first half culminates on "Is It Wrong?" -- the album's centerpiece. Filled with electronic effects and muddled vocals, "Wrong" had me wondering how 10:44 could be the work of one band, not a compilation. But Farm seamlessly eases "Wrong" into "Hotel Manners" by removing vocal effects and adding a guitar hook in the song's last minute.
After an album of three minute bursts, 10:44 stretches out on "Dented Nails," a 6 and half minute track that meanders toward a logical album climax. Two solid songs, "Blueprints" and "Jay Bennett" follow, but it's difficult to give them your full attention after "Nails." There's a lot to listen for on Farm's new album, too much if you just want one style of music. But people who truly love music don't just love rock or folk or electronic, they love it all. Farm is a band for those people.
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released September 11, 2010
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