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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
Yes, that much over-used word when the likes of Mojo give 3.5 star reviews to records they call masterpieces. But this is an absolute 5-star record. The best rootsy band in America have astonishingly exceeded their past excellence and delivered their best yet. The stories are intact, but surrounded by a broader range of music and pace. There's none of the...
Published on 15 Feb. 2007 by Chris Cowan

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh no !
They used to be a great band, but please ignore all the "best yet" reviews (I hate to say it, but some people appear to be either cloth-eared or else just convinced that bands will get better no matter what - they very often don't). If you already know and like this band's work, please just go and buy/put on Post to Wire, enjoy the band at their musical and lyrical best...
Published on 22 Aug. 2009 by Mada about music


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 15 Feb. 2007
By 
Chris Cowan (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Thirteen Cities (Audio CD)
Yes, that much over-used word when the likes of Mojo give 3.5 star reviews to records they call masterpieces. But this is an absolute 5-star record. The best rootsy band in America have astonishingly exceeded their past excellence and delivered their best yet. The stories are intact, but surrounded by a broader range of music and pace. There's none of the Husker-go-country of their earlier records but they rock firmly but gently in parts, strum soulfully in others. But above all, even though it might be a marginally more commercial sound, it's an incredibly warm and human record. Cliché alert and possibly mixed metaphor: but the band seem to inhabit the songs like a warm winter coat, and rarely has music, arrangement, song and performance all come together so snugly.

And it's a grower and grower. Whatever you think 1st listen, by 5th you'll like it twice as much and by 10th you'll live it and repeat-play immediately to the 11th.

I'm struggling to find reference points - it's just great songs, and very American-sounding ones to me a Brit. But think of when already-great bands suddenly gel as a unit and step up a notch, usually with great outside help eg producer, and rooted in a particular place/studio: The Band, Creedence's Willy and the Poor Boys, London's Calling, Songs for the Deaf, Tusk, Exile, Steve Earle's El Corazon, Gentlemen by the Afghan Whigs. Thirteen Cities sits alongside these great records with pride and I hope a touch of deserved arrogance.

Oh and whatever you do don't miss them on tour. They've added Paul Brainard who plays pedal steel and trumpet on their records, and what a difference he makes. They still bar-band rock, and even included their brilliant Husker Du cover, but again have stepped up to sound bigger and broader without losing any of their warmth and charm. Hopefully bigger stages await them, they deserve it.

If the Stooges weren't releasing a new record next month, I'd place money on this as record of 07, no contest. And Iggy, you got competition now, the gauntlet is thrown
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best yet, 7 Jan. 2007
By 
O. J. B. Gray "Oliver Gray" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirteen Cities (Audio CD)
Richmond Fontaine have finally establihed a unique identity with this, their first truly classic album. The almost unbearable melancholy of Willy Vlautin's oblique stories is here expressed though a clearer musical identity which moves away from the "alt-country" milieu and embraces orchestration, keyboards and brilliantly unconventional use of pedal steel. Benefiting from collaborating withTucson musicians like Joey Burns and Howe Gelb, producer JD Foster has brought out the best in a band which has always threatened to deliver in a major way. This record moves me to tears and it will have the same effect on you.

Oliver Gray
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars tell them willie and the boys are here, 20 Feb. 2007
By 
Graeme Wright "book worm" (salford) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirteen Cities (Audio CD)
It seems like years since Richmond Fontaine were flavour of the year in all those trendy music magazines; Post To Wire (last but one album) was Album Of The Century, Willie Vlautin was the new Dylan, Springsteen, Young, etc. Well thankfully hype dies down and moves on to some other poor deservers and Richmond Fontaine can settle back to what they do best - writing and playing Americana (I hate that Alt Country tag)of a quality which both proves the hypers right and gives us stalwarts a thumping good album every year.

Thirteen Cities marks something of a crossroads. The somewhat limited sounds of last year's The Fitzgerald have been supplemented by rich keyboards, brass, accordion and strings provided by some excellent guest musicians and this gives a richer, more varied background to Vlautin's almost narrative songs of drifters, grifters and losers jobbing their way across the western States in search of solace and answers. The debt to Springsteen is most obvious here with some plausibly heartfelt lyrics and cleverly crafted mini tales which never descend into parody.

The one fault which prevents that fifth star is the repetition of the grainy, sepia artwork which has graced every album cover so far. Come on boys add the same colour to the cover as you've so obviously done to the music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No rhyme but reason, 5 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Thirteen Cities (Audio CD)
The key to enjoying music for me is suspension of disbelief. Whatever the process of writing, rehearsing and producing that has gone on, I want to hear the end result as if it's just that moment emerged as a genuine idea. Richmond Fontaine do this for me every time with the casual matter of fact delivery which is often more like a conversation. After a few listens to this CD I realized that part of this illusion is achieved by avoiding anything that rhymes. These are stories sung to music.

The band also manages to perform live in a way that preserves the sense of realness and engagement on an individual level with the audience.

Richmond Fontaine - My favorite band and Thirteen Cities is among my favorite CDs.

All expense spared
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars under the skin stuff, 14 Aug. 2008
By 
R. Brewer "kev brewer" (Notts, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirteen Cities (Audio CD)
In a year when Wilco failed to deliver with the bland Sky Blue Sky, RF came along and provided the salvation with, imho, the best album of 2007. Willy's stories are as lucid and plaintive as ever, but it's the musical arrangement which makes this a truly outstanding effort as it compliments each desperate and broken refrain perfectly. It's a long time since I listened to an album and found myself knowing all the words to heart, but this is how these songs creep up on you. Since then I've invested in RF's back catalogue (yep - i've come late to the party!), and although Post to Wire and the Fitzgerald are themselves deserving of 5 stars, Thirteen Cities remains the beautiful and stark beacon that the likes of Wilco - and even RF - will be measured against.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small-town characters on an empty, dusty landscape..., 17 Feb. 2008
By 
Andy Sweeney "music was my first love" (Brighton, East Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirteen Cities (Audio CD)
'Thirteen Cities' is the seventh studio album from Richmond Fontaine, a 'alt.country' foursome from Portland, Oregon and is the latest of their releases to receive worthy critical acclaim. Perhaps one of the reasons for such praise is the richness and depth of their sound and the fact that listening to 'Thirteen Cities' allows the listener to paint small-time, small-town characters on a empty, dusty landscape that could be the barren Western U.S. or the Mexican border. Such - maybe undeserved - romanticism for the landscape and the characters who call such places their home has seen Richmond Fontaine gaining arguably more success in Europe than their homeland which, considering that the music sparkles like the sun on the Pacific and the always very human quality of the introspective, colourful lyrics, is a pity.

Although the appeal of this album is evident from the very first play, repeated listens reveal more of the depth and longevity of 'Thirteen Cities', as this is a piece of art which will reward the investment of your time and truly grows in stature with each playback. One track, however, dazzles the very first time you hear it and that is 'The Disappearance Of Ray Norton', the spoken-word narrative of a friend who embraces the wrong ideas and the consequences of doing so. I'm not going to digress, as it has to be heard with without any preconceptions to be fully appreciated, but it really is exceptional. Also rather remarkable is the last track, 'Lost In This World', a fragile, emotional, candid song where lyrics and music are the perfect match, reminiscent of some of the Eels' finest moments. A real work of art.
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8 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dip In Form?, 9 Feb. 2007
By 
BTM Linlithgow (Linlithgow, West Lothian United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thirteen Cities (Audio CD)
I eulogised about The Fitzgerald when it was released,and having enjoyed Obliteration By Time and Live at the Doug Fir Lounge in the interim between the two studio albums of new material, I was truly shaking with anticipation as I loaded up Thirteen Cities. My initial impression was overwhelming disappointment. That has tempered since; this album is a grower, but it doesn't reach the heights of it's immediate predecessor.

Song by song word association coming up..................

1. Border - Nice instrumental intro

2. Moving Back Home #2 - Irritating

3. $87 And A Conscience That Gets Worse The Longer I Go - Lyrics are out of place with the arrangement

4. I Fell Into Painting Houses In Phoenix Arizona - Excellent

5. El Tiradito- Beautiful instrumental

6. Ghost I Became - never fulfills it's potential

7. Westward Ho- irritating

8. St Ides Parked Cars And Other People's Homes - space filler- nice lyrics but it's no Alison Johnson

9. Kid From Belmont Street - Excellent

10. Capsized- As close as Post to Wire as it gets - Excellent

11. Ballad Of Dan Fanta- Nice instrumnental

12. Disapperance Of Ray Norton - spoken lyrics - lovely line 'and it gets worse'. - awesome

13. 4 Walls - Excellent

14. Lost In The World- Beautiful

Not classic RF but you can see what they're trying to do. Some classic songs in here but y'all need to go lookin'.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh no !, 22 Aug. 2009
This review is from: Thirteen Cities (Audio CD)
They used to be a great band, but please ignore all the "best yet" reviews (I hate to say it, but some people appear to be either cloth-eared or else just convinced that bands will get better no matter what - they very often don't). If you already know and like this band's work, please just go and buy/put on Post to Wire, enjoy the band at their musical and lyrical best and be very glad you didn't make the mistake I did and buy this without listening to it first. If not ..., well, I'm sure you can work out what's best to do.
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2 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PERFECT, 1 Mar. 2007
By 
Paul Mcparland "Paul McParland" (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirteen Cities (Audio CD)
Simply put, this album is perfection. Don't miss the chance to see Richmond Fontaine on tour they are the finest live act you are ever likely to see.
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Thirteen Cities
Thirteen Cities by Richmond Fontaine (Audio CD - 2007)
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