San Saba County

Fifth

Texas Platters

Not being prolific can mean different things. For San Saba County, it results in the best songs available. It also translates into only the most devout followers keeping up with the homegrown quartet since it's been four years between Broken Record and Fifth, meaning it's almost like starting over. And yet the sound that frontman John Saba and company make will be instantly familiar to fans of R.E.M. and the multitude of acts that followed in their sneaker prints. San Saba County started off much more alt.country, but this time they make indie rock that gleams with simple beats, guitars that soar and jangle, and crystalline harmonies. The XTC-like bop of "Ides of March" and the ghostly, anthemic "Phoenix" are two sides of what they do. At nine vinyl tracks, Fifth spins brief, but this band deserves the same national audience that Okkervil River and Shearwater enjoy.

***.5

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