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Peasant – On The Ground Artist:
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On The Ground
Paper Garden Records
February 26, 2008
None Listed

Peasant is one-man band Damien DeRose and he excels at crafting lullaby rock for the post-party comedown. Timid vocals are layered and mumbled, modeled after Elliot Smith and well executed, favoring thrift over theatrics. Fingerpicked guitars blur within minimal compositions, accented by wandering strings and occasionally ethereal keys.

“Those Days” revels within a swaying canon of self-doubt as DeRose sings, “Actually I don’t believe a word I tell myself.” The tremolo guitars and bedroom refrains develop into a nicely mesmerizing mantra. When DeRose fully develops his instrumental backdrops and kicks his habit of whispering every remorseful morsel, his songs come alive as vibrant neo-folk rock one offs, especially key tracks “Missing All You Are,” “Not Your Saviour” and the sinister harpsichord march of “Birds.” The latter track’s chorus of “We were all just little birds” incites a delirious stab of emotional stagnancy, as the song thrusts forward into an evolving and involving crescendo (that unfortunately peters out a little too soon).

DeRose succinctly summarizes the general musical aesthetic and all-encompassing philosophy of sophomore release On The Ground with a line from the sleepy, lingering “Stop For Her” where he croons, “I don’t want to be a burden so let’s just kiss until the morning.” He demonstrates this “burden” on the entrenched, rehash tracks, “Fine is Fine,” “We’re Good” and “You Don’t Know” which sounds like a sob story John Lennon knockoff.

Despite the moments where DeRose embraces his musical individuality and fleshes out his melodic and rhythmic ideals, too much of the disc is filled with the passive romanticism of “Stop For Her,” a trait that eventually grounds Peasant within a frequently too-familiar framework of acoustic guitar and tepid lovelorn vocalizations.

Favorite Track: “Missing All You Are”

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Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in San Francisco with a girl and a designer dog (Chihuahua vs. dachshund). He is in a band by himself and has a myspace account ( and a production company ( for freelance film and crit/journo work.

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