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The Gathering - Thrill Jockey
FILTER Grade: 82%

By David C. Obenour on April 4, 2011



How old you are probably has a large effect on how you consume Arbouretum’s folk-tinged dirge rock. Many of its beard-donning, Pabst-swilling fans (this critic included) weren’t around for the first, and maybe even the second, wave of bands that inspired this music. There’s also probably a larger Grateful Dead influence present than most folks would care to admit—albeit a much slower, sludgier, non-chorus-concerned Grateful Dead. All of this isn’t to say The Gathering is simply revisionist songwriting; David Heumann retains his unique voice both figuratively through his band’s own fuzzed-out riffage and literally with his road-worn baritone vocals. And though his singing matches Arbouretum well, the only real missteps come when the songs revolve too centrally around Heumann’s lyrics, a trait that seems a slight change for The Gathering. Pretty cheesy lyrics are by no means strangers to this genre, but that doesn’t make them any more welcome. Still, few modern-day axemen can noodle like Heumann, which, let’s face it, is why anyone should listen to Arbouretum in the first place.

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