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Aural Pleasure Review

Chris Maddin: 'The Tiago Splitters'

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Chris Maddin's backing band on this album, for whom it is named, is something of a Saytown super-group. The most important thing we get, however, from The Tiago Splitters — recorded a few years back by Maddin (Blowing Trees) with Buttercup members Erik Sanden and Joe Reyes (who also produced), as well as Current Art Director Chuck Kerr (Bad Breaks) — is a raw and direct look at Maddin the songwriter. Free from the emotionally erratic and skeptically innocent big-indie-pop intricacies of his Blowing Trees project, Maddin's songs might sound pedestrian at times for all their Americana earnestness and occasionally obvious self-awareness; but they are surprisingly patient and poignantly surreal. These are lyrically rich songs about love, life in the scene, and the particular nebulous paranoia of the millennial generation. The artfully folksy sound — acoustic guitar leads with staid percussion, dreamy washes of piano, steel guitar, and the occasional electric wailing — is not revolutionary, but the eloquent (if rarely elaborate) execution of the music lends an aptly fertile background to the alternately ponderous and patterned words. Full of the ghostly presence of the singer's influences, The Tiago Splitters is at its best in songs like "The Option to See," "Dandelions and The Columbia," and "Farewell the Analog" — when Maddin is content to sound like himself.

★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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