When: Sat., Feb. 1, 9 p.m. 2014
Califone leader Tim Rutili moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in 2005, but he’s maintained close ties to his native city and to the local players in his long-running band. That changed on Califone’s 2013 album Stitches (Dead Oceans), which is basically Rutili solo with a revolving support cast, recorded in LA, Phoenix, and Austin. Only Chicago percussionist Ben Massarella, who’s played with Rutili since his Red Red Meat days in the mid-90s, remains from the established Califone lineup (which also included multi-instrumentalist Jim Becker and drummer Joe Adamik), though former colleague Tim Hurley of Sin Ropas appears on a few tracks. Rutili’s sweet, wounded voice and dusky slide guitar remain at the center of Califone’s richly layered music, but its old twisted rootsiness is much diminished without Becker, and its rhythms are missing much of their rickety wheeze. Though “Frosted Tips,” with its post-Stones swagger, connects the old Califone to the new, most of the new album feels more streamlined and airy, if not exactly more sunny. “Magdalene” and “We Are a Payphone” have a honeyed beauty that never could’ve come through so strongly in the company of vintage Califone’s saw-toothed textures and out-of-sync riffing. Most of the songs reflect on the Old Testament—obliquely, as is par for the course with Rutili—but as usual I’m not sure what he’s getting at. The record is fantastic, but I wonder about the new live band, which consists of multi-instrumentalist Wil Hendricks and percussionists Joe Westerlund and Rachel Blumberg—the old lineup spent years building a special rapport that made it amazingly flexible and adaptable onstage. —Peter Margasak William Tyler opens.