The Chicago-bred outfit Fruit Bats has been making records for ten years now, most of them for Sub Pop. And yet Eric D. Johnson, who forms the core of Fruit Bats, has evaded the radar of much of the indie-rock world, mostly for being a consummate, unflashy songwriter adrift in a sea of hacks and hype. The group's fourth and most recent full-length, The Ruminant Band, is its best to date, a spectral and impeccably arranged set of folk-pop songs with an echoey, orchestral bent. Johnson has stated that the disc was an experiment in loosening the reins and letting his band go a bit off the deep end, and that depth renders Ruminant a disc of dimension and haunting devastation. Now that Johnson has joined the latest lineup of the Shins, there's a chance that Fruit Bats might get some wider attention; even then, it'll be best to listen close.
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