Heron King Blues

Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. The weak point of the disc... is the songwriting.... But if you’re in it for pure sonic pleasure, you’re in the right place.
  2. With Califone's penchant for extemporaneous creation finally being properly indulged, Heron King Blues is an appropriately loose and sprawling record, requiring a bit more patience than some of the band's previous projects.
  3. Califone takes familiar elements and often combines them in unfamiliar ways without sounding unfamiliar or ever losing sight of the song.
  4. Heron King Blues definitely signifies a transitional phase for the band.
  5. The music is mysterious and moody, with an unusual blend of instruments and lyrics full of strange imagery, but no real narrative.
  6. Heron King Blues, for all its successes, is not an album for Califone rookies.
  7. It’s about mood here. These numbers would rather glow than soar.
  8. Uncut
    80
    A free and forward-thinking kind of record, but also one that taps into forgotten, mythic resonances of American music without ever sounding ersatz, hokey or remotely contrived. [Mar 2004, p.92]
  9. Blender
    70
    For all their wriggly noise details and fragmented language, their center of gravity is in their hips. [#23, p.101]
  10. Q Magazine
    70
    There's less of Califone's rootsy side here and more floaty mood-pieces or doomy dance grooves. [Feb 2004, p.98]
  11. Alternative Press
    70
    Inventive and highly improvised. [Feb 2004, p.88]
  12. Mojo
    50
    Keeps an unsteady path between fine altered-state atmospherica and irritating cosmic twittering. [Feb 2004, p.100]
  13. Heron King Blues may lack spark and consistency, but it's a decent (just not essential) addition to the Califone catalog.
  14. Entertainment Weekly
    83
    Their shambling songs... stick with you like a spectral fever dream. [20 Feb 2004, p.66]
  15. Spin
    75
    Rutili still crafts a tuneful funeral dirge with the best of them. [Feb 2004, p.104]
  16. The Wire
    80
    Evokes the same stark, road weary melancholy as Ry Cooder's score for Paris, Texas, but with a far more extensive sonic toolbox. [#240, p.57]
  17. [A] hapless, semi-comatose new record that should have started with the last two tracks, while the rest of the album should have been scrapped.
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 4 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 2
  2. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. RambunctiousLumberjack
    Jan 8, 2005
    6
    I fell in love with Califone's two previous albums, Roomsound and Quicksand/Cradlesnakes. The combination of junk percussion, buzzing I fell in love with Califone's two previous albums, Roomsound and Quicksand/Cradlesnakes. The combination of junk percussion, buzzing strings, and unique instrumentation created a splendid wilderness of music. This record is different. The first five songs are similar to their previous works but more subdued, and more importantly, with weaker songwriting. "Trick Bird" approaches the quality of their previous work, the others just seem to drift by without making any impression on the listener. The last two songs are unlike anything Califone has done. "2 Sisters Drunk On Each Other" is a delectable piece that defies accurate description, though there is a definite element of funk there. The final song "Heron King Blues" is crap. I'm all for sonic experimentation, but there has to be some semblance of a song there for anyone to derive any pleasure from it. It's over 14 minutes long, and no one should waste their time listening to it 7 times like I did to see if something good would jump out at me. All in all a disappointing album from a band that has given us so much. Here's hoping lead man Tim Rutili will remember to write some songs before he releases the next Califone album. Full Review »
  2. Andy
    Jan 30, 2004
    9
    Pretty awesome on a whole! It does lack the Michigan Girls and Stepdaughter-type pieces of Cradlesnakes, but it definately worth the listen. Pretty awesome on a whole! It does lack the Michigan Girls and Stepdaughter-type pieces of Cradlesnakes, but it definately worth the listen. It will translate well live, as the songs have more space for jamming and rockin'. As with any Califone record, it will take a listen or two to understand what is all going on. Excellent record! Full Review »