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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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Advisory Committee

Compared to the lo-fi sweetness of You Think It's Like This, But Really It's Like This, Mirah obviously had a bigger recording kitty for follow-up Advisory Committee. "Cold Cold Water" kicks off like a high-stakes battle, and the album is touched up with musical flourishes that can either pretty up a song or make it seem over-embellished.

The quirky accordion swagger of "Light the Match" and pump-organ-plus-programmed-beats of "Recommendation" have an emphatic charm, but the lusty whipcracks and cheesy bass of "The Garden" sound like a bad '80s glam leftover. While "Make It Hot" and "Apples in the Trees" both worked in their acoustic simplicity on the Cold Cold Water EP, Mirah tacks on an unnecessary piano and fuzzy guitar climax to the first song and an ornate choir section to the conclusion of the other. (The additional drumming on "Apples in the Trees" does give the song an indelibly simple pickup, though.)

Pickiness aside, Advisory Committee is a more sophisticated album than the meek but affecting You Think It's Like This.... Mirah's sweet-as-maple-syrup vocals, her sultry tough resolve, but more importantly, her considered, intensely fetching melodies, are a pleaser. Even when she tones down and becomes more insular (e.g. "Special Death," "Make It Hot"), Mirah never sways from her plucky pop bearings. The remote organ drone and soft-pitched vocals on "After You Left" plays simply and affectingly; on that one, Mirah sounds quite like The Sunday's Harriet Wheeler.

Like her lyrical approach to love ("You've gone so far but now you know/ How rough it is to let me go/ So let me recommend that you think twice/[I always give the best advice]"), Mirah's upfront, brash take on melodies and music is simultaneously cute and nervy. And overall, her flirtation with instrumental trickery and grand sounds makes sense when paired with punchy, tuneful compositions.

The one befuddling aspect of Advisory Committee, however, is its title. Whereas the themes of hearts a-straying, hanging out by apple trees, and burning up (both emotionally and à la Mt. St. Helen's) firm up an obvious narrative to the album, Advisory Committee as a name fails to hint at this context. So while this indie-pop chanteuse may bewilder us when it comes to her album-christening decisions, this much is obvious: Mirah's cool-then-flushed vocals and sweetly idiosyncratic songs could win over most committees.

by Lee Tran Lam

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