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Finally, after a three-year wait, Slim Cessna's Auto Club readies Cipher, their fourth full-length on Alternative Tentacles. Dubbed by Jello Biafra as the "country band that plays at the bar at the end of the world," Cessna and co. present traditional American music like country & western and gospel straight up, without contorting it to suit cow punk or alterna/indie country sensibilities. With their earnest approach and raucous live shows that feel more like religious revivals of a bygone era, Slim Cessna's Auto Club has widened their reach considerably beyond their hometown of Denver, Colorado, making devotees out of punks, All Songs Considered-types, Americana purists, and pretty much anyone with a soul.

Cipher features sixteen tracks, strung together loosely by a recurring refrain. As always, Slim Cessna's Auto Club lays out an intricate arrangement of handmade stringed instruments (guitar, double bass, banjo, mandolin, etc.) with flawless musicianship, as well as the curious push-and-pull vocals by the co-frontmen Slim Cessna and Munly. The songs have a darker, heavier tone compared to their previous efforts--though quite a few still maintain the rollicking country gospel vibe that compel some spectators to form mosh pits at their shows. To solicit audience participation of a different sort, as its title suggests, Cipher includes coded messages in its artwork.

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