FILE UNDER: ANCIENT MARINERS, RIMES OF
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The Book of Knots
Tying together noise, pop craft and wreckage rescued from the bottom of the ocean, the Book of Knots—not so much a band as a collection of dear old punk rock fogies Joel Hamilton, Matthias Bossi, Carla Kihlstedt and Tony Maimone—set sail on a mesmerizing nautical voyage. As a concept album, it might seem less than seaworthy—the collected output of several ocean-obsessed jam sessions—but the first track, "Scow," sets the precedent with a lovely hurricane of melody swelling out of an old naval chant. "Frank's Funeral" mixes Catherine Oberg's delicate string performance with Megan Reilly's sultry female cooing and the band's signature punk bombast to settle on a spooky dirge, a signature moment that's close to a tamer version of the Mekons, whose leader John Langford performs the lead vocals to "Back on Dry Land." The 12 tracks that map out this Odyssean journey recall the nightmares of the seasick and the hung over—especially the track "Boston to Bombay"—but despite the parade of guests and the more than 40 different instruments (including banjo, shovel, something called a dumbek and something else called a marxophone) that catcall from the fringes, the album never strays off-course. These guys are seasoned sailors—they know how to get where they want to go.