Posted at Animal Psi on May 1, 2007 along with a review of our self-titled cassette:
‘New Crusaders of the 11th Commandment’ is the band’s second “proper” full-length (the first being the 2005 Foxglove ‘A Discreet History of Bone’) and the first for their own label, Maritime Fist Glee Club. Through the album’s eight tracks, the band continues to supplement their wordless compositions with evocative names such as onomatopoetic opener “Whirlpool, Tortoise & Hare”, a folk tune of a sailor’s mandolin strings, lurching jugband rhythms, and clip-clop percussion. However, unlike the previous cassette (recorded in the midst of the sessions cropped for this disc), the music of ‘New Crusaders’ breaks from the jazz-leanings to embrace an Americana sound akin to Town and Country, Charalambides and its many offshoots, and (again) most prevalently, Jackie O Motherfucker. The gleeful weave of strings and keys in “Plushies Unite” lull the senses to rest, thus allowing even more power to the onset of “Krofftland”, a one-two dance of sinewy strings, didgeri-drones, and repressed saxophone impervious to the swift motion of polyrhythmic hand-claps; dark and ritualistic, the song begs the ominous Shalabi Effect at their most grounded. While none of the songs quite reach the double-digit sprawl of “Ghosts of Forgotten Winters”, central tracks “A Word With Every Apple” and “Platt National Forest 1919” push 8 and 9 minutes respectively, and together form a folksy string suite poised on acoustic guitar and banjo, as well as some eastern timbres, with the delightful addition of subtle arrangements cognizant of Copland and Ives. Purported wedding song “Hidden Language” expands a simple guitar melody with piano flourishes and gongs (it works!), ham-fisted timpani, cello and more, realizing a firm harmony in many unlikely sounds. Traditionally-performed traditional “Sugar Baby” features the first emergence of vocals, recalling the everyman vocals of Tom Greenwood and Jackie O more than ever – banjos, acoustic, harmonica, Quaker Oats drums – a nice diversion before the grandeur of “Stylish Cope”, a final string-layering stunner of the progressive sort they do so well, this one ornate with shrieks of high-fret fiddling and sweeping bass vibration, with additional color of harmonica and xylophone. Just what that 11th commandment says remains a mystery, though it may be something like “make really good albums, but take your fancy time”. I kid. Stamped CDr comes in a labeled cardboard sleeve with neat artwork and text. Limited to 300 pieces. This band is really great. Highest recommendation.