2016, Music

Undestroyed (2016) by Free Salamander Exhibit

Even before listening to this record, the evocation of the former band is perhaps a little too overt. Not only does the artwork of the album recall Sleepytime Gorilla Museum but look at these band names:

  • Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
  • Free Salamander Exhibit

People as creative as these guys are need to change up the format at least a little bit when picking new band names. Jesus…

So, even before listening to the record, there was a sense that this project is very much Sleepytime Gorilla Museum minus Bossi and Kihlstedt, who have gone on to far poppier things. Maybe this has coloured my feelings about the music but I have a hard time not thinking of the project this way.

And though I like this kind of music more than the type of music Bossi and Kihlstedt (aka Rabbit Rabbit Radio) have gone on to make, this record feels to me as if it is missing their presence. As it’s as if these guys have doubled down on the most extreme aspects of SGM.

This is still very compelling, interesting music played by excellent musicians, at a really high level. If I wasn’t such a fan of SGM (or didn’t know about them) I would probably be blown away. But the sense of deja vu cannot be escaped, which is weird given the type of music we’re talking about here.

My hope is that, in time, I will come to like this more than I currently do. But it currently feels like SGM minus its most melodic music and does not really feel like a new band to me.


  1. Unreliable Narrator 5:24
  2. The Keep 5:39
  3. The Gift 9:57
  4. Time Master 5:21
  5. Undestroyed 10:12
  6. Atheists’ Potluck 4:29
  7. Oxen of the Sun 9:23
  • Nils Frykdahl: vocals, guitar, 12-string guitar, flute, design
  • Dan Rathbun: bass, sledgehammer dulcimer, vocal, recording engineer, mixing engineer
  • Michael Mellender: guitar, trumpet, percussion, baritone horn
  • David Shamrock: drums, glockenspiel
  • Drew Wheeler: guitar, glockenspiel, theremin, vocals

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