KDHX REVIEW: Lines From The Frame

November 13, 2008

Though it was released this November, Lines From the Frame, the third album from Saint Louis band Magnolia Summer, sounds like it was made for warmer, longer, fuller days, days to take stock of who you are and where you’re going, and long nights to look for and find a good rock band to get you to the next day. There’s a sense of freedom in the crunchy guitar hooks, arcing violin lines (courtesy of Grace Basement’s Kevin Buckley) and the craftsman-like arrangements of power pop and country. Maybe it’s Chris Grabau (he of the songwriting and singing) and John Horton (he of the Bottle Rockets) and Joe Thebeau’s (he of Finn’s Motel) thick and agile guitar parts or maybe it’s John Baldus’s splashing, impulsive drums that puts me in mind of Big Star’s Radio City–though the songwriting is somewhat more philosophical than “September Gurls.” But Grabau’s contrasting images and ideas–decline and ascent, erasure and memory, battle scars and moments of reprieve, time lost and found–have a classic economy and naturalness.

My favorite track today is the acoustic “Birds Without a Wire,” which features some lovely piano and pedal steel, plus harmony vocals from Glossary’s Kelly Kneiser. It’s an elegiac song with a restless, yearning heart.

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