“I knew anything Burton created would be worth my time and attention, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how “Placer Found” would affect me — or how it still does. As someone whose friends describe as “instantly nostalgic,” I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect soundtrack to the competing impulses of missing my life in Indiana and pretending to be a professional adult in the Big Apple in my early 20s. It makes me think of otherworldly Indiana and Kentucky nights that never seemed to end. Kissing my girlfriend under an impossibly starry sky. Wondering what I was doing on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. After all these years, I return to “Placer Found” often, not only when I need to nourish those memories, but when I’m ready to make new ones.
The opening title track sets the mood just right, its comforting guitar interplay and gentle vocals holding your hand toward an unseen destination that’s “still a ways to go.” “East Berlin at Night” is the definition of cinematic, almost like an Ativin song with the amplifiers turned down from 12 to 3, while the last two minutes of “Texas Cinema,” are the equivalent of a deep embrace from which you never want to let go. Why some sharp-eared music supervisor hasn’t utilized “In These Hills” in a movie montage of two people falling in love, I’ll never understand.
This new edition brings it all back to the proverbial start, as it is being released on the Bloomington label Secretly Canadian which championed Ativin from the beginning and quickly became a home for Early Day Miners after the initial Western Vinyl release of “Placer Found.” The two unreleased instrumental tracks on side D are fascinating glimpses into creative paths not taken. “Prospect Refuge” is a delicious slice of posi-vibes math-rock, while the taut, vaguely ominous “Blue Casino” makes an entirely different song out of a riff later utilized for the standout “Jefferson” from the band’s 2003 “Jefferson at Rest” LP.
For nearly 20 years, the music on “Placer Found” has fed my soul in a way few albums ever have. I hope it might do the same for you.” - Jonathan Cohen