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Vanguard: Arbouretum - Long Live The Well-Doer
By Mark Hensch

The shoegazing alternative outfit Arbouretum, hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, like to take things slow. Crafting subtle, piercing, and poignant songs, it's save to say reflecting mournfully on the intricacies of life hasn't been this entertaining in quite a while. Playing loose, flowing, and "film-noir" worthy tunes, patience truly is a virtue and practitioners of patience will be well-rewarded with a quiet, yet alternatively explosive, album in the Box Tree/Morphius Records release Long Live The Well-Doer.

Sadly, the lame "Sands and Sands" is the start to the album. Being pointless filler that sounds like a Radiohead soundcheck, yet still mildly coherent, there is almost nothing to redeem this strangely rambling song and it is a bad start to a CD. Thank God for the fact I wasn't angered enough by this bad start to stop listening. "Jonas Got A Tooth" is a genius shoegazer ballad, perfect for that heart-wrenching indie  movie soundtrack or that time in your life when you feel you are living fiction. Some mourning back-up vocals (female mind you) meld perfectly with the dirge psychedelic balladeering and trancy lead vocals. "Don't Let It Show" is a folksy ramble, and another great track.

Look out for the ironic emotional detachment inherent in the vocals, and it becomes painstakingly clear that tortured folk music is not dead; it is rather alive, and thriving to boot. "I Am a Somnabulist" twists around your soothed brain with quirky guitar strumming before going into moody shoegazing glory all over again; though instrumental, the production squeezes every ounce of passion and life from random keyboard effects, quiet guitar chords, piano keys, pitter-pat drums, and orchestrations galore for some amazing music. 

"People Flock Not to the Good" is a dark ballad with some perfect vocals and gray shoegazing alternative. Some interesting string parts near the end will catch people off guard, and Bam! Another great tune is born! "Wishteria" is a whirring, fun, and mechanical instrumental track, definitely a good song.

 "Early Bird Gets The Worm" is a strange, lukewarm, and almost joyous fuzz ballad that I couldn't either love or hate; people shall interpret this themselves, most likely depending on mood. "All That Will Be Has Become, All That Has Come isn't Gone," despite it's horribly unwieldy title, is an excellent eight minute wander through bass lines, crystalline guitar notes, jangling drums, and weird psyched out effects. An amazingly fun song. "Song's a Seed in My Garden" is a quiet pop tune, and a powerful yet soft end to a darn good album.

Besides the pointless "Sands and Sands," I came away shouting Long Live The Well-Doer (i.e. Arbouretum) at the top of my lungs. It's awesome to hear a band not afraid to make quiet, peaceful, and soothing music about the very things that represent the opposite of those ideals. Weird and surprising, Arbouretum will be doing well in any person's CD player; but only if it gets the chance first. How about you give it?
 



CD Info 

Arbouretum - Long Live The Well-Doer
Label: Box Tree / Morphius
Rating
 
Tracks:
Sands and Sands
Jonas Got a Tooth
Don't Let it Show
I am a Somnabulist
People Flock not to the Good
Wishteria
Early Bird Gets The Worm
All That Will Be has Become, All that has Come isn't Gone
Song's a Seed in my Garden
 
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