Califone To Release New Album “Villagers” On May 19th

Photo by Travis Haight

Califone, the long-running project of Tim Rutili, has announced their new album villagers is set for release May 19 via Jealous Butcher Records. For the group’s first record since 2020’s Echo Mine, Rutili dials into the sweet spot where awe and bliss commingle even as things are falling apart; the effect of which is akin to sitting on a porch swing looking out at a sunset that radiates a slow, mystic entropy fraying everything at the edges.

Pre-order / Pre-save the album HERE

Recorded in four cities and bolstered by a pool of collaborators that includes longtime cohorts Brian DeckMichael KrassnerRachel Blumberg, and Ben Massarella, the record’s nine compositions smoothly bounce between taut grooves and rough-sketched studio exploration, seamlessly blending elements of classic AM gold, electronic experimentation, Laurel Canyon harmonies, and musique concrete into a horizonless sonic geography.

This boundlessness is ever-present in “the habsburg jaw,” which arrives to preview the album, paired with a disarmingly hallucinatory video directed by Rutili himself.

With 25 years of Califone in his catalog (as well as a variety of other projects, including alt rock staples Red Red Meat), Rutili has always acted as part poet, part composer, part abstract painter, luring listeners through elusive lyrics, flashes of shadows and images coming together in disarming unity. That strength is redoubled on villagers, an album brimming with oscillating and startling turns of phrase. It’s telling that Rutili refers to his songs as if they were human, even the most abstract thoughts carrying a deep soulfulness. “I came out of this judging myself a little bit less harshly, trusting myself a tiny bit more,” Rutili states of the album. “It feels comfortable to combine elements of Captain Beefheart, ’70s AM radio pop, and broken digital sounds. There are words that shouldn’t go together and images that are smashed together that maybe shouldn’t be, but it feels right.”

villagers’ songs are full of people coming to terms with the gaps between perception and reality, with the very concept of reality, with time slinking constantly towards an unseen cliff—an album where even songs of devotion focus on loving the other’s imperfections and broken hearts. Throughout the moments of eerie distortion or surprise come as quickly to the fore as they disappear behind themselves, masterful brushstrokes cast in mercuric music. Even as the world stretches into stranger and stranger shapes, Califone continues to reach newfound heights of harmony and unity beyond their already mythic chemistry.




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