Coming on like Brian Wilson clad in the leathery hide of Captain Beefheart, the five young men of Hermit Thrushes have no problem gutting indie rock and playing gleefully with its innards. On the Philly group's two full-lengths, Slight Fountain and Benaki, it uses a mostly conventional batch of instruments — that is, no surfing on the exoticism of a string section or horns — to stop, start, scrape, scramble and otherwise completely rearrange the amino acids of pop, folk and even free jazz. Xiu Xiu and Dirty Projectors conduct a similar type of deconstruction, but Hermit Thrushes are somehow more radical and less pretentious than those bands — not to mention warmer. And that warmth is what turns the quintet's aural art-school project into something far more disarming.
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