In the past few years, Head of Femur
has limned back its sound from the kitchen-sink freakouts of early tours to a more guitar-centric approach. Gone are the horn sections and glockenspiel solos, but the Chicago-by-way-of-Omaha quintet still sneaks in enough hairpin tempo changes and well-orchestrated passages to show off each member's musical pedigree. Head of Femur had once proclaimed its love of the Band with a cover of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and the ode "Song for Richard Manuel" (from 2005's Hysterical Stars
), but the newly released Leader and the Falcon
EP takes this fascination a step further. The rootsy, clavinet-led "100 Years" would have fit right in on Stage Fright
, and on "Green Grass Grows All Around," singer and guitarist Matt Focht does his best to summon Manuel's quavering, broken voice.