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Editor's note: We have activated the Neumu 44.1 kHz Archive. Use the link at the bottom of this list to access hundreds of Neumu reviews.

+ 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

44.1 kHz Archive

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Teenage Fanclub

Teenage Fanclub's last two records of the 1990s were both loaded with impeccably crafted guitar pop that set about the task of eradicating the discord and jagged Big Star-isms that made 1991's Bandwagonesque both Spin's Album of the Year (over milestones like Nirvana's Nevermind, Public Enemy's Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black, and My Bloody Valentine's Loveless) and the standard to which the band is still held today.

1995's Grand Prix is better than 1997's Songs From Northern Britain, mostly on the strength of its songwriting — tracks like the immortal "Sparky's Dream" are still compulsively listenable today — but both are tuneful and worthy of your time. The same holds true for Howdy!, finally released in the U.S. 14 months after it first arrived in the UK to massive public indifference. Maybe it was too unfashionable for the pop climate of the time, too naïve for listeners who had gravitated to more confrontational sounds. And maybe, for a pop album, it didn't have the requisite pretty-boy frontmen on the cover that would have ensured maximum product shift (for all the charm of their music, the members of Teenage Fanclub are not gifted with enormous charisma). Or maybe it was just bad luck; ironically, just as Howdy! was sinking down the UK charts, British and American listeners were warming to the sub-Fanclub wimp-pop of Travis and Coldplay, two groups that lack the Fannies' exuberance and tend towards acoustic blandness.

Howdy! again delivers the well-polished guitar jangle and three-part harmonies that have become the band's trademark, serving them up here in four-minute bursts by the three songwriters, Gerard Love, Raymond McGinley and Norman Blake. Love's "I Need Direction" is a pure sugar rush, with ba-ba-ba background vocals and a soaring chorus worth spending a week or two getting lost in ("I need the ways and means to get through/ I need an open heart to look to/ Nobody sees the same way I do/ I need direction to get through"); the chiming guitars that surface 1:23 into McGinley's "Happiness" quickly identify themselves as the addictive pop hooks of which the band never seems to run short. And don't even get me started on the stone-cold classic "Dumb Dumb Dumb," the home of the album's signature couplet "And I find it hard to sleep/ Because I've sold myself so cheap." Blake is credited with authorship on that one, no surprise considering he's responsible for most of the band's best songs over the years.

Worryingly, though, there are signs of a detrimental side effect of this musical democracy and conservatism. There's an almost pathological insistence here on consistency of guitar tone, to the detriment of extended listening. The playing can be too tasteful, the tempos rarely vary from a moderate stomp, and as a result any song without a huge hook bleeds into the next. It's always pretty, but overall, the allure is almost meretricious, considering four or five songs provoke nothing beyond a pleasant ambivalence. It leaves me wondering if a little more abandon wouldn't serve the lads well. Their songs have the melodic character to withstand concessions to experimentation and aggression, both of which might bring back some of those bandwagon fans who deserted them years ago.

by Ryan DeGama

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