Califone | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


There's always been a cinematic quality to Califone. The group's 2004 release, Heron King Blues, was compared in The Wire to Ry Cooder's haunting Paris, Texas soundtrack. But the group's latest, Roots & Crowns, may be the most cinematic yet, no doubt inspired by the soundtrack work members Jim Becker and Tim Rutili (formerly of Red Red Meat) picked up while Califone was on a short hiatus.

Taking its name from a Robertson Davies novel (1981's The Rebel Angels), Roots & Crowns finds Califone still drawing on while simultaneously deconstructing America's musical past, filtering it through a post-roots clatter built on white noise, found sounds, tape loops and a piano with duct tape and paper clips stuck to its wires.

And they've topped it all with cryptic, impressionistic lyrics by Rutili. He says the inspiration for this album was, in fact, a Psychic TV song, "The Orchids," which explains the gorgeous treatment of it found here. There's one lyric in particular -- "In the morning after the night I fall in love with the light" -- that establishes the tone of the album, a clear retreat from the darkness of Heron King Blues.

As for the title, Rutili says it's all about "uniting where you come from -- your roots -- with what you strive to be or what you reinvent yourself to become. At the bottom of these songs are the memories and images you sift through in the process."

Califone, with animated films by Brent Green. 8 p.m. Mon., Nov. 20. The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $15. 412-237-8300 or