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CD Review: Megafaun

Gather, Form, and Fly (Hometapes)

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When North Carolina alt-country band DeYarmond Edison split, lead singer Justin Vernon retreated to Wisconsin and re-emerged as Bon Iver. The remaining three members became Megafaun and released the experimental-folk album Bury the Square last year. That record was interesting, if not altogether listenable. For their second attempt, they have (mostly) toned down the experimentalism, focusing a bit more on songcraft and lovely three-part harmonies. The record works best when the band has confidence in a number like "Kaufman's Ballad" or "The Fade" and delivers the goods in a fairly straightforward manner. The problems begin on "Solid Ground" and "Darkest Hour" — skeletal songs that the band tries to flesh out with unnecessary and sometimes grating bluster. There are a couple of moments when a middle ground between these approaches works best, like on the aching and elegiac "Guns." Gather is a step in the right direction for Megafaun, but it would benefit them to fully embrace a traditional approach. Chris Drabick

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