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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
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+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
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+ 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
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+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
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I Believe

Clearly, Josh Haden, vocalist and leader of Spain, is a lovelorn man. On Spain's previous record, She Haunts My Dreams (the band's sophomore effort), Haden's lyrics focused on a recently split relationship. While this is standard lyrical fodder for songwriters, Haden took it to a whole other level — it seemed obsessive, as if he could not write about anything else. This was a shame, given that the record was a musically strong combination of jazz, pop and slow-core influences — She Haunts My Dreams was almost like a jazzier interpretation of the Red House Painters catalogue, but without the Painters' thematic diversity.

I Believe shows that Haden's obsession has not faded; he's still baring his broken heart through his lyrics. He seems to have stagnated musically as well. For the most part, the ideas presented here differ very little from those on the previous record. When Haden makes use of more upbeat rhythms, he's most successful. "She Haunts My Dreams" and "I Believe," two examples of the "up" Spain, are as close as this record comes to pop songs. They both utilize strong, hooky guitar lines and move swiftly through verse and chorus.

Elsewhere the songs vary in quality. The monotonous "Mary" repeats two vocal lines without respite for four and a half minutes, while the beautiful keyboard hook on "Make Your Body Move" hovers well above the usual guitar-bass-drums backing of Spain tracks. Haden's voice largely defines the Spain sound; here, especially in the aforementioned "Mary," he rarely pushes it to any new places, constantly relying on his lower register, an almost monotone drawl, to deliver his repetitive lyrics.

It seems Haden is still mulling over the ideas he presented previously, and was too quick to record this new album — in contrast to the four-year gap between Spain's first two albums, this one comes only 18 months after She Haunts My Dreams. Selected tracks from this record and its predecessor would form a very solid album; as it is, I can't recommend I Believe.

by Ben Gook

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