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By Sarah Cobarrubias in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 6, 2010 5:20PM

Image via Parasol Records
We first came across Common Loon at the Empty Bottle back in November of last year, when they entranced the crowd with their own style of dreamy psych-pop. The Champaign-based duo, comprised of Matthew Campbell and Robert Hirschfeld, are life-long friends, and their closeness shows in their music; they seem to be on the same level, managing to harmoniously balance Midwest indie rock with laid-back, West Coast-inspired surf-pop.

Today, Common Loon releases their debut album Long Dream of Birds. And it’s just in time for the onset of Spring - with an easygoing vibe and the perfect dose of sunny pop, it’s just right for sunbathing on the porch while drinking down a few Heines. The album opens with “Dinosaur Vs. Early Man,” a groovable tune reminiscent of the Beatles, with a lush, swaying rhythm and drowsy, John Lennon-esque vocals. The rest of the album maintains these elements, and in fact other tracks like “Happy Ending” and “A Prayer for Hemophilia” sound even more Beatles-inspired.

But Common Loon is no revival band, and they prove themselves as contenders in the indie world with tracks like “Palestine Everywhere,” which contrasts serene, hypnotic vocals with a guitar riff that conveys an eerie and urgent tension, as well as “Outside,” which sounds a little like Weezer on Valium. Long Dream of Birds closes strong with “A Moment in Energy Transfers,” which is perhaps our favorite track because it has a strange kinetic energy, opening with lush, sweeping guitar chords that ascend into near climax, then unexpectedly drop off into a flickering guitar riff, followed by sedative, ethereal vocals.

This album took quite some time to come out - Common Loon has been playing together for more than two years, and the release date has been moved back a couple months - but it was well worth the wait. It’s one of the most ambitious and well-crafted debut efforts this Chicagoist has come across. Each track manages to adhere to the album’s overall laid-back vibe, though each could easily stand on its own. Download the album and decide for yourself. And of you like what you hear, Common Loon is currently on tour in support of Long Dream of Birds and will be stopping by Ronny’s April 11, opening for Unwed Sailor.

Common Loon Plays Sunday, April 11 at Ronny’s, 2101 N California, 7pm, $10, All Ages