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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Carl Creighton

Rating: 6.9/10 ?

May 13, 2008
Like an insightful child picking daddy out of a Santa Claus lineup with a shrug and a sigh at how obviously sad and ironic the whole thing is, Carl Creighton offers up Minnesota, a matter-of-fact collection of 11 humble and patient songs.

Creighton's entreaties are unblinking and his emotions, though sometimes worn on the sleeve, have the kind of distance and insight plenty of sad sack coffee shop guitar slingers wished they had. Folky (and perhaps even lumped in with that nebulous genre known as anti-folk), Creighton seems a slightly more lucid and very nearly radio-friendly alternative to the likes of Iron and Wine, Grizzly Bear, or even Kimya Dawson. And though the album is named for a state, it certainly holds less pretension than those by Sufjan Stevens.

Minnesota opens with "Smoking Is Ugly," which sets the tone for most of the album. It's pensive and conflicted and puts us square with the narrator; drinking coffee in New York City, thinking about home, and unsure of whether or not he wants to even be in New York City. In "Be My Best Friend" it seems the NYC cynicism has already started to creep in on our great hero from the north woods. Creighton shrugs, "It's not that I'm homeless I just don't really live here/ I could easily stay or I could disappear/ the friends that I'm makin' will probably be takin'/ the next Greyhound taken back to their homeland."

Simply put, Minnesota is a really pleasant blend of quiet conflict, reflection, and, of course, the expected dose of melancholy. But it's also varied, which can be hard to come by. "El Paso" builds and ends with some force, a noticeable change of mood from the first few tracks. "Minnesota" breaks the album half way, nice and whispery and heavy-hearted. "Live Tonight" has the same 90s alt-rock feel of something off of Cake's Fashion Nugget. A small cast of characters lend a hand, and Jeffrey Young's unobtrusive violin compliments Creighton well, as do the subtle vocal contributions of Erin Regan and Mimi LaValley.

He plays the piano, has a penchant for Coke Zero and coffee, and really, really misses the Land of 10,000 Lakes. But with at least a few shows planned in Manhattan and Brooklyn this month and next, maybe Creighton will stick around long enough to establish himself as something more than a woebegone Midwesterner. And although he hasn't quite made it with this collection of songs, it seems very possible that he someday will.

Reviewed by Patrick Sullivan
Wearing plain black t-shirts, LAS contributing writer Pat Sullivan thinks a lot about a lot of different things. He likes thermoses but rarely has occasion to use them. He lives in Brooklyn.

See other reviews by Patrick Sullivan



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