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Califone

After the disintegration of Chicago's blues-rock innovators Red Red Meat, the band's four remaining members struck out on their own, initiating several varied endeavors but never straying too far from their home base, or each other. Ben Massarella and Tim Rutili revived their Perishable Records imprint, Brian Deck opened the Clava recording studios, adjacent to the Perishable offices, and Tim Hurley recorded and released his own Sin Ropas project on the resurrected label. Amid the flurry of activity, all four also found the time to contribute to the ill-fated A&M-commissioned Loftus LP. While enduring the fluctuation between crisis and monotony inherent in the daily operation of a small, independent record label, Rutili began work on his next musical project, Califone.

Named after the pedant audio supply manufacturer, Califone was initially just Rutili banging out songs with a computer. Eventually, he began to enlist the help of some familiar cohorts and cycled through several transient contributors; ultimately, the revolving cast spawned 1998's self-titled debut EP. A joint Flydaddy/Perishable release, the record was distinctly more focused and confident than Red Red Meat's swan song, There's a Star Above the Manger Tonight. While still incorporating the bizarre sounds and sequenced beats of that record, this time the band didn't allow its in-studio experimentation to overwhelm the songs. Interestingly, at the end of the nascent recording sessions for Califone, someone in Rutili's new conglomerate noticed that the band was, in effect, a reincarnation of Red Red Meat; the principal members of the supposedly defunct quartet were the only remaining people in the studio.

A second self-titled EP followed in 2000 on Portland's Road Cone label, which soon after was paired with the first on the Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People compilation. With Califone's fundamental studio lineup at least temporarily solidified as Massarella, Rutili, and Deck, the band recorded its debut LP, Roomsound, with an open-door policy; members of Eleventh Dream Day, Tortoise, and Fruit Bats all performed on the album. Released in the spring of 2001, Roomsound fused the disparate elements the band had been struggling to unite since There's a Star Above the Manger Tonight, creating a cohesive, affecting album.

The limited-edition Deceleration One appeared in February 2002, showcasing some of Califone's stunning live-recorded instrumentals. It was a combination of film loop mixing by Jeff Economy and Carolyn Faber and a puppetry sketch interpreted by Califone. A month later, Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People was released, capturing the two new tracks as well as material from the band's two previously out of print EPs initially available on Flydaddy and Road Cone. Rutili and Massarella were on a roll. They collected additional musicians during the summer of 2002 for the recording of the Quicksand/Cradlesnakes EP. It's a rough-edged, dark effort, but Califone's ever-changing musical cinema remained at its best. Released in 2004, Heron King Blues further refined their blending of melodic acoustic compositions and experimental tendencies before the band went on hiatus for most of 2005 while Rutili focused on soundtrack work. The band reconvened in late 2005 to begin work on Roots & Crowns, released in October 2006. All My Friends Are Funeral Singers followed in 2009. Bluesy, broken, and impressionistic, 2013's Southwest-birthed Stitches was the first Califone release to be recorded entirely outside of the Windy City. ~ Bryan Carroll
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Stitches

1. Movie Music Kills A Kiss

2. Stitches

3. Frosted Tips

4. Magdalene

5. Bells Break Arms

6. Moonbath.Brainsalt.A.Holy.Fool

7. Moses

8. A Thin Skin Of Bullfight Dust

9. We Are A Payphone

10. Turtle Eggs/An Optimist

x

Track List: All My Friends Are Funeral Singers

1. Giving Away The Bride

2. Polish Girls

3. 1928

4. Funeral Singers

5. Snake's Tooth = Protection Against Fever & Luck In Gambling

6. Bua*Uel

7. Ape-Like

8. A Wish Made While Burning Onions Will Come True

9. Evidence

10. Alice Marble Gray

11. Salt

12. Krill

13. Seven, Fourteen, Or Twenty-One Knots

14. Better Angels

x

Track List: Heron King Blues

1. Wingbone

2. Trick Bird

3. Sawtooth Sung a Cheater's Song

4. Apple

5. Lion and Bee

6. 2 Sisters Drunk On Each Other

8. Outro

x

Track List: Quicksand/Cradlesnakes

1. One

2. Horoscopic,Amputation,Honry

3. Michigan Girls

4. Cat Eats Coyote

5. Your Golden A**

6. (Red)

7. Million Dollar Funeral

8. When Leon Spinx Moved Into Town

9. Mean Little Seed

10. Vampiring Again

11. Slower Twin

12. Step Daughter

x

Track List: Roomsound

1. Trout Silk

3. Fisherman's Wife

4. Porno Starlet Vs. Rodeo Clown

5. Tayzee Nub

6. Slow Rt. Hand

8. Wade In The Water

9. Rattlesnakes Smell Like Split Cucumber

10. New Black Tooth

x

Track List: Roots & Crowns

1. Pink & Sour

2. Spider's House

3. Sunday Noises

4. The Eye You Lost In The Crusades

5. A Chinese Actor

6. Our Kitten Sees Ghosts

7. Alice Crawley

8. The Orchids

9. Burned By The Christians

10. Black Metal Valentine

11. Rose Petal Ear

12. 3 Legged Animals

13. If You Would

x

Track List: Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People (Expanded)

1. On The Steeple With The Shakes (X-Mas Tigers)

2. Silvermine Pictures

3. Pastry Sharp

4. To Hush A Sick Transmission

5. Dime Fangs

6. Red Food Old Heat

7. Down Eisenhower Sun Up With Mule

8. To Hush A Sick Transmission (Unedit)

9. When The Snakehandler Slips

10. Electric Fence

11. St. Martha Let It Fold

12. Beneath The Yachtsman

13. Don't Let Me Die Nervous

14. Dock Boggs

15. Bathwater

16. June Rat

17. Pastry Sharp

18. A Horse-Sized Pill

Comments

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saw 'em early on w/pavement and rrm also early w/Liz phair I figgered they stole both shows in an understated way...they blow my mind and always will...so does rutelli/Broc k combo Ugly Cassanova ... Thanks Pandora
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He reminds me of David Bowie in his tone of voice! I think this guy is great!!
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jimmytai9
F%#K This
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This is the worst music I have heard all day. Get offa my Pandora losers
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Great Band- Voice and lyrics always make me drift in a good way. Red Red Meat and Califone are bands to check out. Listen to the entire record- Do people still do that? I hope so
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where'smy pillow? I'm going in a comma :(
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seawild
Hope they come to Seattle someday. Really like their mountain sound.
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Bottles and Bones is a modern day Amazing Grace
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classicalgr
One of the best and most underrated groups out there.
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Been listening to RRM/Califone / L o f t u s since Jimmywine Majestic was released and place them in my top five bands of all time. Just had a chance to see a RRM reunion show in Chicago prior to the SubPop 2oth ann. show and highly recommend trying to see some inncarniatio n of the band before you die. Ben Massarella on "percussion" is something to behold!

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