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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
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+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
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+ 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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90 Day Men
To Everybody

The final measures of "A National Car Crash," the last song on To Everybody, 90 Day Men's new record, contain the same tender ascending and descending lines that end Derek & the Dominos' "Layla." It's a wistful melody coerced from a piano, an afterthought that sighs with regret and anguish. The fact that 90 Day Men, a Chicago-based quartet whose career to this point has explored the sterile, academic world of math rock, could elicit such expressive tones shows the astonishing evolution they have undergone with To Everybody.

On To Everybody, the emotional vacuum of 90 Day Men's first long-player, (It(Is)It) Critical Band, has been replaced with earnestness. They used to be a good, dependable math-rock band that never sounded very interested in what they were doing; the vocals were all bored monotones and the arrangements were guitar-heavy and uneventful, if clever. But on the new album, 90 Day Men have become expressive without sacrificing their virtuosity.

The difference is striking enough to make you wonder whether 90 Day Men rendezvoused with a shadowy figure at the crossroads in the past year. The quartet performing the six songs on To Everybody doesn't sound one bit like the group that recorded Critical Band and the 1975-1977-1998 EP. Not only is the playing better and more passionate, but the entire songwriting style has changed significantly. These new songs move. They aren't faster; in fact they're slower. But they progress and shift rapidly, thanks to the growing role of keyboardist/pianist Andy Lansangan.

Lansangan performed on some of Critical Band's tracks, but To Everybody marks his first opportunity to break loose with the group. He more than takes advantage of it. His keys pepper each song with pounding melodies that add much-needed and unexpected dimensions. The many time changes hinge on the direction his piano takes.

The two songs that benefit the most from Lansangan's considerable talents are also the album's best. He provides the hook to "Last Night, A DJ Saved My Life" with a sustained keyboard progression that hums like a housetrained theremin. The track could be a Kid A outtake, with heavily processed drums and soft, breathy vocals.

"A National Car Crash" echoes with delay-pedaled guitars tempered by the scores of chiming notes emanating beneath Lansangan's fingers. Robert Lowe's deep, croaky voice sounds downright optimistic thanks to the inspired keys. Halfway through the song a commanding piano breaks through a swirl of droning loops, sending it into the searing finale punctuated with the Clapton homage.

The interplay between Cayce Key's scattershot drumming and Lansangan's piano takes on a jazz flavor as each instrument works to its own groove, yet the album is still based in traditional songwriting structures. Thanks to this somewhat contradictory approach, as well as the minimal guitar presence, To Everybody avoids easy categorization. Each song burrows within itself, finding inspiration in clauses and phrases that, when pieced together, read like a fractured poem. The meter seems shapeless with its constant shifts and contortions, but the album never loses its overall brilliance.

by Yancey Strickler

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