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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
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
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+ Espers - II
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44.1 kHz Archive

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Cold Cold Water EP

After the quirky sweet pluck of You Think It's Like This, But Really It's Like This, hearing Mirah's latest EP is a trip into a different frontier. Literally. The armed cowgirl on the cover, cocking her gun from the back of a galloping horse, clues us in to the runaway sound of the EP's title track, while the blurb inside describes Cold Cold Water as a "hell-for-leather Western tragedy; masked cowgirl tells of lawless heartbreak in her own words. With embellishments of famous open-range rustler Phil Elvirum [the producer]."

The sleeve's allusion to cinema isn't too farfetched — "Cold Cold Water" unfolds like an epic tale, and the many "excerpts" from the song that book-end the EP work like a behind-the-scenes peek at how the narrative was constructed. This may seem like a cynical move to plump up the track listing (there are 12 "songs" on the EP), as some of the individual song segments are extremely short — Track 11 is 24 seconds of dirgy bass and percussion isolated from "Cold Cold Water"'s body. Track 12 notches up a mere 46 seconds, but it's 46 seconds brimming with diversion and drama — furious handclaps, marching-drum fervor, soaring voices and theatrical strains of violin. Most of the "excerpts" do illuminate and highlight the intense stagework of "Cold Cold Water" as a whole.

As for the song itself, it kicks off with a deceptive calm: "I saddled up my pony right/ and rode into the ghostly night," Mirah sings over a lazy strum, before the stampede of percussion and violin swells greets the listener head-on. A morose organ serenade is truncated by the monumental pounding of drums; sweet plucking turns into engine drones, and the mammoth charge of horses is evoked once more through the storming drums and violins. Mirah illustrates her melodramatic tale with gunfire-like handclaps, charged yells, high-stakes violin melancholy, and a percussion section as cutting, intense and well synthesized as a war strategy.

In contrast to the symphonic thunder and intricate tension of "Cold Cold Water," the two other songs (yes, actual songs) on this EP are acoustic numbers with the winsome Mirah hooks — the lo-fi hi-melody trademark that was minted so finely on You Think It's Like This, But Really It's Like This. If anything bundles the disparate-sounding set together, it's Mirah's emphatic, gorgeous vocals. The title track, however, is the one that really leaves you besieged. Watch that gunsmoke.

by Lee Tran Lam

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