Release Date: Jul 21, 2009
Record label: Hometapes
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental, Folk
"Plant that flag on solid ground," advise the members of Megafaun on their second album, Gather, Form & Fly. The trio-- comprised of brothers Brad and Phil Cook and Joe Westerlund-- sing that admonition repeatedly, in boisterous unison, yet they have no intention of taking such advice, at least not musically. In fact, since the disbanding of their previous band DeYarmond Edison (with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon), they have celebrated the joys of shaky foundations, creating ingeniously ramshackle folk rock that combines acoustic instruments and mountain harmonies with obtuse sound collages, meandering song structures, and abstract passages featuring the most psychedelic banjo imaginable.
Megafaun’s debut, Bury the Square, was a bracing mix of tradition and experimentation. Within the album’s expansive, droning tracks, there were fully realized and affecting sounds of folk, country, and blues. They sounded as if they played out of some wide, abandoned barn that was being bombarded by television static and other technological hums.
Right, let’s get one thing straight before we begin. Lazy, derivative music is a Bad Thing. You already knew that. Exhibit A: the existence of Jet. Res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself. This irrefutable truth does, however, mean that the burden of the canon looms large in my mind ….
The relentless re-embrace of acoustic campfire ponderings and singalongs may seem a bit strange in the 21st century, but as far as everything progresses, there will always be a harkening back to some form of a mythic lost paradise of the form. That said, Megafaun are just as taken by quietly tortured dark-night-of-the-soul whisperings, lo-fi oddities, and shards of feedback shade as they are of banjos and summertime evenings, giving Gather, Form and Fly a bit of an unsettled edge at various points. Songs like "Kaufman's Ballad" and the slightly goony swirl of "Impressions of the Past," shifting from marches to piano breaks and more, make for more fun than the straightforward if attractive enough compositions like "Worried Mind" and "Solid Ground.