Saturday, February 4, 2023 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

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Sigur Rós
Ágætis Byrjun

For some bands, the "just-the-facts" approach isn't enough. Such is the case with Sigur Rós. The media darlings of the moment, the Icelandic quartet have inspired an unlikely domestic bidding war over their second full-length, Ágætis Byrjun. Originally released in Iceland in 1999 (where it sold 16,000 copies — the per-capita equivalent of 16 times platinum, as CMJ has pointed out), the album was picked up by the UK's fantastically eclectic FatCat label in 2000 and finally released in the U.S. by MCA's new imprint PIAS-America. The band's sprawling drone draws references to Godspeed You Black Emperor!, not to mention ample comparisons to the Icelandic landscape; they're fashionably "difficult," singing only in Icelandic and "Hopelandish," a made-up tongue; they're endearingly skinny; they've toured with Radiohead. Chances are you've read all that, somewhere or another, sometime in the last few months. But try to forget it. Go buy the album, drown out the noise of factoids, and listen to it. Hard. Fortunately that won't be difficult, because Ágætis Byrjun is one of the most sublimely immersive albums to come along in ages (likewise Sigur Rós' live performance, which recently turned San Francisco's rock-relic Fillmore into a resonant chapel of sound). With the sparsest of instrumentation — electric guitar, bass, drums, the occasional organ, a string quartet and scads of delay — they manage to create an all-encompassing sound, a rock core that flares into a full-blown expanse of yearning, without, paradoxically enough, lapsing into pretension. Like all great musicians, they've proved themselves to be brilliant listeners. There's nothing patently original here: the string work on "Flugufrelsarinn" recalls This Mortal Coil's best moments; the delicate precision of the group's approach is taken straight from Talk Talk's Laughing Stock. Like any good drone band, they've doubtless put in their time swaying in front of the speakers to Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Magic Hour. They've even made some of their biggest hits out of Finnish folk songs and funeral marches. What is it, then? An early press release for the band drew guffaws for describing their sound as "The sound of God weeping tears of gold in heaven" (which, indeed, was a bit of PR hyperbole that should not go unpunished). But there's something to it: it's transcendent stuff, truly Dionysian, the kind of expansive sound that makes you want to sweep yourself into the breach. Jonssi Birgisson's eerie falsetto, which curls unsteadily around the notes like a lover's hand around another's wrist, is simply uncanny — sexless, other-tongued, but familiar as the voice inside your own head. Musically, the band achieves a rare sort of Fourth World inclusiveness, the kind of global sound Bill Laswell can only dream about. Their massive, rock-based drone creates a vortex that sucks in all manner of sound — folk songs, classical chamber music, electric blues, monster ballads, indigenous piping, laptop chatter and ambient swirl. I could swear I even hear a New Orleans parade in there somewhere. And that's it: it's bigger than you are. It draws you in and holds you there. That's really all you need to know; once you've found that place, you'll go back again and again.

by Philip Sherburne

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