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Cerberus Shoal


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Cerberus Shoal The Land We All Believe In album cover
3.96 | 20 ratings | 2 reviews | 35% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Land We All Believe In (4:38)
2. Wyrm (11:34)
3. Pie for the President (3:40)
4. Ghosts Are Greedy (15:51)
5. Junior (10:42)
6. Taking Out the Enemy (16:40)

Total Time 55:46

Line-up / Musicians

Karl Greenwald/ Conceptionaliser
Caleb Mulkerin/ Guitar
Tim Morin/ Drums, Percussion
Chriss Sutherland/ Bass and Vocals
Erin Davidson/ Bass and vocals
Colleen Kinsella/ Musician
Thomas Rogers/ Drums

Releases information

2005 North East Indie

Thanks to black velvet for the addition
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CERBERUS SHOAL The Land We All Believe In ratings distribution

(20 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (15%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CERBERUS SHOAL The Land We All Believe In reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars I seem to have gotten really obsessed with Cerberus Shoal of late. I mean, like getting on a bus and going to Maine and stalking them obsessed. Every seen that movie ‘What About Bob”? Kind of like that.

Nah, not really. I probably should erase that before posting this review or they might get a restraining order or something. Hopefully not, I’m not really a nut case. But I do love this album, having come upon it (and the band) sort of backwards via Caleb Mulkerin and Colleen Kinsella’s later work with Big Blood and their newly-released album as Fire on Fire. Pick that one up if you’re into carefully constructed chaos posing as post-punk Americana folk by the way; you’ll be glad you did.

Cerberus Shoal seem to be something of a hidden treasure as far as progressive / indie music goes. I guess they are no more since Kinsella and Mulkerin have moved on to the whole Fire on Fire thing. But during the band’s ten or so years of existence they managed to crank out a dozen albums as well as any number of collaborations and odd side projects. Pretty prolific for a group that doesn’t seem to have any central thematic compass or even definable style. I’ve read their roots were in punk, although you certainly wouldn’t discern that from anything I’ve heard of theirs. The stuff is kind of hard to find too, since most of it is out-of-print or only available from side-street vendors. I managed to pick this one and a few others up for not much more than the cost of postage from various Amazon resellers. This one cost me all of $4 USD plus shipping, brand new. Great deal – too bad the band probably made little to nothing off the sale. Maybe I’ll send them a Christmas card or something.

Their earlier work seems to start off as more like loosely organized post-rock, but eventually they discover horns and accordions and stuff, and you can’t call it post-rock if there are horns and squeeze boxes. Efrim Menuck would never stand for that sort of thing.

But eventually the band apparently made their way from the Boston avant-garde scene to their current digs in Maine, and their sound evolved into something much more acoustic, a bit more grounded in social and cultural themes, and heavily imbued with folk and indeterminable ethnic tones. I would as easily believe they are a bunch of first-generation Iron Curtain immigrants as former music-school students from New England.

This particular album captures the band in the latter stages of their transition to an earthy folk act, not of the Devendra Banhart neo-folk family, but closer to the Larkin Grimm mold. In fact, several members guest on Grimm’s latest album ‘Parplar’ under their current handle Fire on Fire.

Anyhoo, the music is pretty interesting stuff, even if the band does manage to almost screw everything up by interrupting a romping folk chant with a really cheesy piece of spoken-word pseudo-goth thing in the middle of “The Ghosts are Greedy” that sounds like an acoustic, laid-back version of Abiogenesi with a vaguely Canadian accent. Oh well, I guess there’s a reason these guys aren’t on the Billboard charts.

No matter, the rest of the album more than makes up for this faux pas, and that’s what the skip button on a CD player was made for anyway. The title track sounds very much like the acoustic folksy stuff the Fire on Fire is currently doing, with Kinsella’s borderline falsetto and slightly trembling vocals adding just the right touch of both grit and charm. I’ve no idea what they’re rambling on about, and the liner notes are about as unorganized as the band appears to be on their youTube videos. But the trappings belie a carefully constructed arrangement of acoustic strings, percussion (including some sort of unidentifiable bell-type thingies) and what sounds like maybe a banjo. I’m guessing there’s a left- leaning political message here if you really want to dig, but I’m cool with just kicking back and enjoying the ambience of the music myself.

Next up is “Wyrm”, a sort of weird blend of folk, calypso, Latin groove and mildly-hypnotic rhythm combined with bassist Chriss Sutherland’s (at least I think it’s his) vocals babbling on in a made-up dialect that also makes no sense, but once again I could care less. After a while the band reverts back a bit to their post-rock and mild drone days with an extended instrumental break that doesn’t do much but kind of wander along aimlessly, before kicking back into the gibberish-and-rhythm groove to bring the song to a close. It’s not ‘Thick as a Brick’, but I’m left feeling a little more cheerful in a world where there’s too little of that so the time is well-spent.

After a predictably goofy and strange “Pie for the President” that makes about as much sense as the title, and the aforementioned “The Ghosts are Greedy” things pick up considerably. The last half-hour of the album consists of two tracks (“Junior” and “Taking out the Enemy”), both lumbering, unhurried with relatively simple arrangements and melodic stretches interrupted at odd intervals by moody transitions and well-constructed two and three part vocal passages. “Taking out the Enemy” adds a chorus of pretty much the whole band chanting “here I am; here I am – sending out aeroplanes” with a three-syllable enunciation of “aeroplanes” that’s really catchy and makes the song work very well as a comforting closing to an overall easy to enjoy hour of music.

I can’t say as Cerberus Shoal are the next coming of modern progressive music; in fact, the key members of the band have since moved on to a sound that regresses from this transitional record to their next incarnation that is even more primitive and vaguely timeless than this one manages to be. But in the end I seem to have developed a soft and somewhat sentimental spot in my music consciousness and my Zen player for a record that has to be appreciated for its reverent respect for the craft of music if nothing else. And that is something worth acknowledging indeed. Thanks to these musicians for staying their course despite the lack of broad recognition or fame – you have one devoted fan at least. Four stars.


Latest members reviews

4 stars Rating: B+ As one of the quirkiest bands in music's long (and often quirky) history, Cerberus Shoal never fail to surprise the listener with each album. That's certainly still the case on The Land We All Believe In, their most recent album to date (though there are rumors of a new one), and on ... (read more)

Report this review (#171232) | Posted by Pnoom! | Saturday, May 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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