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Broken String

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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The Broken String
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Audio CD, July 24, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

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As Brooklyn indie-rock acts go, Bishop Allen's core members-–Justin Rice and Christian Rudder–-offer little bombast and less pretension. After their well-received debut, 2003's Charm School, the pair embarked on a year-long "EP project," self-releasing a four-song disc for each month of 2006. As a follow-up, The Broken String proves that the prolific project yielded nothing if not a masterful honing of the band's already established elements: plaintive vocals, tastefully spare arrangements, and an unerring knack for employing the right guest musician at the right time, including horns, strings, a Hammond organ, and lovely backing vocals by Darbie Nowatka (who also sings lead on "Butterfly Nets" and designed the beautiful CD package). Most importantly, Rudder and Rice spin daringly capricious yarns. Suckers for a good pedestrian detail, these songs dabble in maritime history ("The Monitor"), Chilean Catholicism ("Like Castanets"), and the grind of office life ("Middle Management") with facile familiarity and unassuming humor. For fans on the hunt for a less lovelorn Magnetic Fields, or a calmer, gentler version of the Decemberists (sans the grating whine and the pocket thesaurus), Bishop Allen just might be the answer. Either way, The Broken String sounds timeless. --Jason Kirk
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 24, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Dead Oceans
  • ASIN: B000RGSOCS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,382 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I should start off by saying most of the songs on this album are rerecorded versions of songs from the 12 EPs Bishop Allen put out in 2006- one per month, 4 songs per EP (except August, which was a recording of a live show they performed in Boston). Some of the new versions here are markedly different (none more so, I feel, than "Corazon"), and fans who already own the EPs might find the changes jarring. Most are for the better, and in some cases ("Flight 180") are nigh-nonexistent.

The album on a whole is excellent; full of catchy melodies and charming songwriting. The music is more minor-key than their debut, Charm School, but it's still recognizably Bishop Allen. Fans of fun indie pop will enjoy this collection of songs.
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
The three star deduction has nothing to do with the album, rather, the way it was shipped: In an oversize box with a single air pillow on top of it. It was free to slide around the box throughout shipping and led to a minor warp in one corner of both the sleeve and record. The latter affected playback on the first track.

I had a "vinyl flat" that was capable of subduing the record warp a minor degree, though edge warps are very difficult to fix and the first track is still a loss. In retrospect, I should have sent it right back upon seeing the sleeve warp.

I know that I'll get hammered by the review police, for my decision to deduct stars from the product. However, seeing that it will have little-to-no affect on the album's overall group rating and there's no way to publicly rate Amazon's and other sellers' shipping policy, I think it's a fair compromise and will hopefully prevent others from making the same mistake I did.
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Format: Audio CD
I saw these guys open for John Vanderslice in Seattle at Club Neumos, and I'm sorry John, but these guys stole the show. What an album. I know it has been compiled from their impressive EP-a-month project, but whatever did it, this is one of my top 10 of 2007, up there with Boxer, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Sky Blue Sky et al.

"The Monitor" requires singing along throughout. The drums draw you in, and the pianos keep you there. Find yourself singing "carried on, carried on, carried on/singing la-da-da-da-la-de-da" over and over. Perfectly blending into track 2, "Rain" is one of the best on the album. Full of promise and inspiring lyrics. Great little bit of guitar work, matching the non-stop vocals in the verses. Listen repeatedly. This also blends right into "Click, Click, Click, Click", a smoothed out/ crooned out track. Nice and memorable and cheery, ala happy Wilco, any Rogue Wave, among others. This song holds it own among anything I've heard this year. Perfectly produced. Actually, this album needs no volume adjustments, just sit back and enjoy the mastered equalization. "The Chinatown Bus" employs a drum track that carries this beautiful song along, like a non-annoying "Hey There Delilah". Love the horns that come in after the bridge and the flute at the end. "Flight 180" is totally sedated at first, but penetrates thru regardless, due to the true passion and pain that radiate from the singer.

"Like Castanets" should be viewed as the start to Part 2. A little bit of a country element, and a smoothness that is unmatched. Great percussion and controlled melody. Nothing here grates... the song soothes, even when the mexican-sounding horn section takes over. One of the best on the album.
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Format: Audio CD
I bought this CD after reading a review of one of their songs (on the website for "All Songs Considered"), and though I liked the CD right away, it was after listening to it a few times that I fell head over heels in love! The musicians are thoughtful and poetic, their lyrics endearing, and most importantly, all of the songs on this CD are unique and nice to listen to. They bring together different kinds of instruments in a way that makes me just plain happy.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I was happy to see this album available as an MP3 version because the actual CDs are much more expensive, which isn't usually the case with music these days. I heard about this from the radio and was pleasantly surprised to hear the rest of the album. If you like folky guitar music, you'll dig Bishop Allen's The Broken String.
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Format: Audio CD
To start off I'm just going to say that this is a great album for everyone- from a grizzled Indie veteran such as myself to a hard rocker who wants to experiment with new sounds. In this album Bishop Allen establishes their own distinctive sound, but it varies so much that no song is the same. From the awe-inspiring "The Monitor" to the all out jangly fun sound of "News From Your Bed", this is great.

One of the amazing things of this album is how it was recorded. Since they only had two guys, they recorded the instruments seperately and spliced the sound together.

Overall, a great bye. I would reccomend it to anyone.
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Format: MP3 Music
I am a very lucky man. I am an old git but , in one afternoon a couple of years ago, a friend of my son's introduced us to the Avett Brothers, The Black Keys, Fanfarlo, Vampire Weekend and Bishop Allen. All terrific.A Red Letter Day.

Today I had the Bishop Allen CD in the car changer after the Beatles second album. I thought 'This is going to be a bit of a let-down'. But I was quite wrong; it is just an outstanding album. Need not do a track by track review as others have done that... Like Castanets was the first Bishop Allen track I heard and it is a brilliant song beautifully sung. But the rest of the album is just as good. Love the banjo on Shrinking Violets and Darbie Nowatka's beautiful voice on Butterfly Nets. Not a weak track here. Any other old gits reading this may be reminded of Stackridge a mere 45 years ago; tuneful, moving songs well sung and played. If you did not try this when it came out , give it a go now.
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