Califone: “Frosted Tips”

If you’re heading to the War On Drugs show at Stubb’s on Sunday night, be sure to get there early. Like the headliners, openers Califone tackles classic American music from a modern angle. Formed in 1997, the Chicago outfit likes to find the inherent darkness and weirdness that underpins blues and country music. Their songs have elements of these genres–slide guitar, harmonica, fiddle, multi-part harmonies–but they’re rearranged in interesting ways.

Last year’s Stitches, Califone’s seventh album, was something of a landmark for the group. For the first time, the music wasn’t recorded in Chicago; instead, frontman Tim Rutili teamed up with musicians in Arizona, Texas, and his adopted home state of California. The result is an album that sounds restless and bigger, and critically, it’s been called the band’s best (not bad after approaching a second decade as a group). If you’re new to Califone, “Frosted Tips” serves as a great primer because it shows off everything the band does well in a bite-sized chunk. There’s a great hook buried beneath the clattering percussion, literally and figuratively: in the old watching the new world die.

Catch Califone at Stubb’s on Sunday, September 28 at 8 p.m., opening for the War On Drugs.

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