Frederick Huang and his group Of the Painted Choir have been reinterpreting the sad, sad subgenre of "desert rock" for years now, dismantling every last vestige that distinguishes the craven likes of Gin Blossoms and the Refreshments (yikes!) by losing both the desert and the rock. That leaves this Phoenix quintet playing songs that sound like swinging backdrops to 21st-century spaghetti Westerns. The good news is that Of the Painted Choir will be releasing Barbarous, the band's first full-length LP following two excellent EPs from 2012 and 2013. Like its predecessors, the new album sashays into the territory of David Axelrod and Lee Hazlewood, as if desert rock originated in A Clockwork Orange, had the movie been set on Mars. Of the Painted Choir's hallmarks — immaculate, detailed production, effective and surprising instrumental textures, restrained yearning, and Huang's unearthly tenor — are all present on Barbarous. And though the music that pervades the record is far from savage and cruel, the band is downright mean, because the album's release show is its final performance. Either way, the joke's on us, as Of the Painted Choir leaves behind a stunning body of work and leaves us hanging like Tuco in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
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