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The River
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4 Stars - Excellent
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Release Date
July 22, 2012

Style: Folksy hymns, fine harmonies; compare to Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons, Beach Boys

Top tracks: "Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed," "Shall We Gather at the River"

Taking lyrics from old hymns and putting them to new arrangements is hardly a novel idea, but it often comes off as stilted or simply too far off the mark from its rich source material. Not here. This Seattle band pulls off the concept with style, grace, and beauty, and its harmonies (sometimes a la Fleet Foxes, sometimes the Beach Boys) are a recurrent highlight on this 5-song debut EP. You can get it at NoiseTrade for free, but their BandCamp site includes a couple of $10 options with the wonderful bonus track "When I Approach My God"—you'd swear you were listening to the Beach Boys.

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