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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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Is A Woman

Nashville's Lambchop do what many indie artists wish they could do — transcend genre limitations, changing their sound from album to album, from post-punk to soul to lounge to jazz, sometimes mixing them up and sometimes not.

Like the group itself, Lambchop's Is a Woman defies genre — and sounds different from past efforts. Critics have noted that it does not sound alt.country whatsoever. And, while the album may sound idiosyncratic (but good!) within an unpredictable group's overall oeuvre, all 11 cuts are cohesive and belong together on one LP.

Straight up, Lambchop's sixth album is lounge-rock for world-weary sophisticates. Jazzy chamber rock with a gentle tempo forms the backdrop for half-spoken vocals. Reflective piano-driven melodies utilize gently strummed guitars, cerebral vibraphone, brushed drums, found sound and effects (e.g. cicadas buzzing and a little girl's music box — atmospheric, and evoking memory).

A subtle, moody album, it's an unrushed sonic experience for those who've seen some blacktop. With humor, a sharp acumen for the texture of life outside Eden, and tenderness that stops just short of "poignant," Is a Woman has no heavy breathing; puerile earnestness has been edited out.

You could say Is a Woman is emotional fortification for those who observe (and, perhaps, comment upon) the quotidian mysteries of the existential rift. For instance, there's this writerly meditation: "I can flick a cigarette butt/ Further and with more accuracy/ Lots of practice, I guess/ Someday we will all be editors" ("Flick").

If you wanted to be pretentious, you could say Is a Woman is post-structuralist "Music Noir," apt accompaniment to, perhaps, Celine: "The last thing I remember/ About waking up in Kristiansand/ Was gagging on my toothbrush/ As it brushed across my tongue/ And removed a drunken sailor/ Paid his bar and porno bill/ Gonna have to fuckin' hose him down" ("The Old Matchbook Trick").

But that's if you wanted to be pretentious. And while Lambchop do please a literary indie palate, that wouldn't be fair to Kurt Wagner, Lambchop's creative savant, because he is not pretentious.

Not that you'd want it to, because the music sounds so good, but his poetry can stand alone, sans song. Often catching the listener off guard with revelations intimate and unexpected, the scope of the unlabored lyrics veers from wry to effortlessly romantic — and even sexual: "You have lost your socks and panties/ Out by the caterpillar/ That grades the road I walk on/ While I'm dreading English" ("Caterpillar").

This is not the soundtrack for a suicide, but for narrow escape from self-immolation. It's an acoustic sigh, mature and frank. "And William called and tried/ To tell me that his sister's boyfriend has just died/ He's not sure what to do/ And I'm not sure what to tell him he should do/ Sometimes William we're just screwed" ("My Blue Wave").

It may even leave listeners with a resilient buoyancy. Subtextually, it says music gets you past the rough spots: "It's here you make your peace/ The cut the fold the crease/ Maybe you can cure your own disease" ("D. Scott Parsley").

So many more delights are within. References to Bob Dylan and Vic Chesnutt. The sprinkling of words from popular cultural vernacular — casual "groovies" and "dudes" and lines like "that trips me out" — modernize Wagner's finely crafted words and add context, locating the place of his poetry in our daily lives. And there are the melancholy bars that ever so slightly recall Tindersticks.

And that music box. Visions of a ballerina spinning, and the thickness of summer air disturbed only by the droning of the cicadas.

by Jillian Steinberger

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