John Roderick, the focal point of the Long Winters, gets by with a little help from some noteworthy friends on the band's latest album, When I Pretend to Fall, released last year on the Barsuk imprint. The Posies' Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow (who co-produced Fall), plus the Young Fresh Fellows' Scott McCaughey and REM's Peter Buck, all contribute to the disc. As these references suggest, the Long Winters, which also features keyboardist Sean Nelson, drummer Michael Shilling and bassist/accordionist Eric Corson, specialize in tuneful pop with an indie sensibility. Roderick can be precious at times, but he's got a self-deprecating sense of humor that he exhibits on the raucous "Prom Night at Hater High" and the brass-happy "Scared Straight," which concludes with Our Hero in the company of "Little Miss Mean Mini-bar Guard." While these tunes and others tend to be zanier than those by the Decemberists, whom the group is supporting on its current tour, the two acts share a fondness for melody, verbosity and strange juxtapositions that mark Roderick and Decemberists leader Colin Meloy as kindred spirits. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
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