Theodore makes music, from a hush to a helter-skelter, that feels country but can't be. The sound is too eccentric, too impulsive, too illusory. That steel guitar you hear? That's the cry of a ghost. That high, broken twang in Justin Kinkel-Schuster's voice? That's the way the truth comes out. That 2008 album, Defeated, TN, with songs based on letters found in an abandoned home in Tennessee? Those are Theodore's stories too. Taking cues from lo-fi improvisers Giant Sand and country folk defilers like Palace, the band members assemble in shadows with trumpets, musical saws, accordions and banjos, then march forth like they know exactly where they're going. They don't, but that's the point. Theodore's country trip is mostly doomed and desperate, but it's always earned, always deeply felt — as the best country or alternative music should be.
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