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The Long Winters
WHEN I PRETEND TO FALL
(BARSUK)

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Perseverance is one quality that Long Winters frontman John Roderick isnít lacking. He could easily have hung it up in í99, when his highly hyped Western State Hurricanes went out with a whimper without releasing a single major recording. Instead, the Seattle-based songwriter took a break from music to do Europe on $5 a day. He returned to record his first Long Winters CD, last yearís The Worst You Can Do Is Harm (Barsuk), with much encouragement from Harvey Dangerís Sean Nelson and Death Cab for Cutieís Chris Walla.

On When I Pretend To Fall, heís likewise supported by the cream of the Seattle scene: the more than two dozen guest musicians include Nelson, Walla, Posie Ken Stringfellow, Minus Five leader Scott McCaughey, and R.E.M.ís Peter Buck. Horn charts, string arrangements, and keyboard embellishments abound on heavily orchestrated tracks like the gorgeous yet fierce "Prom Night at Hater High," the wry "Blanket Hog," and the Motownish "Scared Straight." Elsewhere, Roderick sticks to a more traditional rock line-up of guitar/bass/drums, exploring quirky Built To Spill territory on "Shapes" and keeping things simple on "Cinnamon." But in the end When I Pretend To Fall is a songwriterly album, and the spare "Itíll Be a Breeze," which features little more than guitar and voice, stands out as evidence that with or without grandiose arrangements, Roderickís got the pop chops to let his songs stand on their own.

(The Long Winters open for Brendan Benson and Jesse Malin Thursday June 5 downstairs at the Middle East; call 617-864-EAST.)

BY MARK WOODLIEF

Issue Date: May 23 - 29, 2003
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