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What? After re-releasing a re-mastered, re-jiggered edition of 2006’s disquieting Palo Santo on new label home Matador last year, dramatic indie rockers Shearwater drop their exquisite fifth record, Rook, this week. Led by former Okkervil River member Jonathan Meiburg, Shearwater specialize in heavily instrumented, moody rock accentuated by Meiburg’s astoundingly versatile vocal range. Rook finds the act further honing their craft and imbuing a sense of variety, from the howling barn-burner “Century Eyes” to the dark-hued balladry of first single “Rooks.”

Who? Shearwater was founded in 1999 by Meiburg and Okkervil River leader Will Sheff as a venue for the duo’s quieter creations. After releasing three full-lengths and an assortment of EPs, the group that started as a side-project received critical acclaim for 2006’s Palo Santo, which featured musical (but not vocal) contributions from Sheff. Last month, Meiburg announced his departure from Okkervil River in order to focus exclusively on Shearwater.

Fun Fact: In his spare time, Jonathan Meiburg is also a practicing ornithologist, which is a person dedicated to the study of birds. In fact, Meiburg has embarked on excursions to earth’s far reaches to study rare birds, and the band themselves share their name with a species of seabird.

Now Hear This: “Rooks” (DOWNLOAD MP3)

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