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Refreshing art-pop from
Chicago indie-rock ensemble

Anathallo - Canopy Glow
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Dec. 16, 2008

Review by Tony Bonyata

It's true; you really can't judge a book (or CD, for that matter) by it's cover. I had a review copy of Anathallo's sophomore full-length, Canopy Glow, sitting near my desk, starring at me for a couple of months, but I just couldn't bring myself to give it a spin. This was, no doubt, due to the cold, foreboding nature of the album's cover art, which depicts a teenage boy lying on the bare ground looking either frozen or stone cold dead. Technically, the grey, monochromatic acrylic painting is an amazing example of modern realism, but the depressing subject matter leaves a lot to be desired. Not knowing anything about the band I just assumed that this was some inane nu-metal album and wasn't ready to give it a fair listen. After hearing one of their tracks on, what I consider to be, one of the best radio stations to discover new music ( out of Cincinnati), my interest was piqued and I looked forward to digging deeper beyond my previous misconceptions of the band.

What this 10-track collection proves to be is well written, lushly produced pop-rock that blends the melodic folk strains of singer/songwriter fare with strings, horns, and heavenly multi-layered harmonies, which shines brightest on the beautiful track "The River." The Chicago-based ensemble (by way of Mt. Pleasant, MI) continue to offer up challenging, yet easily digestible song structures on the upbeat "John J. Audubon" and "Cafetorium," while also delivering gentler sonnets like the closing track "Tower of Babel" and the hushed beauty of "Northern Lights."

The self-proclaimed indie art-pop ensemble originally took their name from the Greek word meaning "to renew, refresh or bloom again" and with such a mature and majestic brand of original rock it's a very fitting moniker.

Now if they could only do something with that creepy cover art.

Watch Anathallo - "Bells"

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