Heron King Blues retains many of the elements of Quicksand/Cradlesnakes -- particularly on the acoustic opening track, "Wingbone" -- but elsewhere the quartet seems intent on pushing its shotgun marriage to the edge of dissolution. "Trick Bird" has the gentle ambience of a trip-hop tune aside from Rutili's hoarse vocals, while the country guitar of "Sawtooth Sung a Cheater's Song" sounds as though it were dropped into the opening "sound check" of the Velvet Underground's "European Son." The album culminates with the 15-minute title track of detuned skronk-blues atmospherics that resemble Captain Beefheart. While still interesting, fans of Califone's futuristic country-blues songs -- as opposed to the group's increasingly experimental predilections -- may be disappointed.
Califone plays the Echo Lounge Tues., May 18. 9 p.m. $8.