Minus Story, "Heaven and Hell" EP

Lawrence's Minus Story has been picking up steam since the release of last year's "The Captain Is Dead, Let the Drum Corpse Dance" - a majestic eight-song home recording that recalled some of the finer moments of Neutral Milk Hotel, Jeremy Enigk and Built to Spill.

"Heaven and Hell" continues in the vein of "Captain" with its exploratory sonic textures, intimate lyrics and soothing melodies. But where "Captain" sometimes layered on tracks to the point of overkill, "Heaven" allows its five songs room to breathe. The result is a more accessible recording.

Songwriter Jordan Geiger flaunts his poetic muse: "Misery is a ship / Upon which we all ride ... And history is a sea / Deep and wide ... And time makes dogs of men / and ruins what it doesn't take." Geiger's fragile falsetto and no-strings-attached singing is the perfect complement to the band's ramshackle palette, which is rounded out with harmonica, trumpet, xylophone and plenty of auxiliary percussion.

A gentle cover of Glenn Danzig's "Hybrid Moments" is a surprising charmer, with tinkling keys, oohed-out harmonies and some creative live drum manipulation. "Time Wastes Itself" may be the band's most blissful song yet, and "Suffer By Yourself" is a whip-shot Old-West waltz in the vein of Calexico.

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Heaven and Hell EP

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Minus Story's most impressive talent is its ability to create an alternate universe for its listeners to dwell in. "Heaven and Hell" is another fine contribution to that grand design, with more roadside attractions packed into five songs than most bands pack into a whole album.

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