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Bombadil at Rams Head On Stage - Saturday, September 6 at 12:30

Photo Credit: Todd Cooper
"None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master." - JRR Tolkien

Like their literary namesake, Durham-based folk quartet Bombadil is a bit of an enigma. They released their second full-length album, Tarpits and Canyonlands, to critical acclaim in 2009 (on my birthday, to be exact). Then the band effectively disappeared from the public radar, victim of a mysterious neurological ailment that prevented bandleader Daniel Michalak from playing. They went on a hiatus from touring for the next 3 years, despite releasing 2 more full-length albums and a 7-inch single.

After trying treatments both traditional and homeopathic Michalak is back in the saddle, and the band is touring with the likes of Kishi Bashi and the David Mayfield Parade. They're re-releasing Tarpits and Canyonlands (Ramseur Records), giving you a second chance for a first impression of an album that IndyWeek made their album of the month in July 2009, and that Paste magazine described as sounding like a "college glee club covering The Village Green Preservation Society".

If you like your folk-pop of the exquisite and elaborately melodic variety, then you should check them out. The album sounds not so much like a glee club, but like the Mountain Goats' John Darnielle and the The Dodos covering the revered Kinks' album. Their harmonies elicit comparisons to Blind Pilot and Grizzly Bear, and even their sad songs make you want to dance around like one of the Peanuts gang. Their music is at once familiar and foreign, modern and a tad anachronistic, not unlike a Wes Anderson film. Tolkien described Tom as knowing "the first raindrop and the first acorn", and "the dark under the stars before it was fearless". Listening to Bombadil evokes the same reaction, that familiarity that's just on the tip of your tongue.

The show at Rams Head On Stage is an all-ages matinee, with doors at 12:30 and the show starting at 1:30. Tickets are $15. Don't miss it!

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