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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
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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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Badly Drawn Boy
Have You Fed The Fish?

Badly Drawn Boy's Have You Fed the Fish? is the CD that might have been, had Beck's relationship stayed intact. It's a peek at the chaos surrounding domesticity. One minute it's sweet and optimistic, the next it's heading for the door and taking a grudge. The back of the CD booklet has a picture of Damon Gough, the Badly Drawn Boy, standing in a living room with a black dog looking on and a children's riding toy in the background. I know the scene well. I've had to navigate my way past riding toys and naked Barbie dolls while yelling over my shoulder, "Have you fed the fish today?"

When Gough asks that on the title track, he follows with "Have you made your wish today?" I almost feel as if he's talking to me. When my husband set up a 35-gallon fish tank in an upstairs bedroom, I never fed the fish. I wasn't even sure I wanted those extra mouths to feed. I was busy trying to keep track of Barbie's shoes and Ken's head. Then, the shelf the fish tank was on collapsed, and all 35 gallons of water and 12 flopping fish rushed across the floor. Water went through the ceiling, into the living room below. The light switch started to sizzle. And I had to wonder if I'd got what I wished for.

Getting what you want — or what you need — is a recurring theme on Have You Fed the Fish, Badly Drawn Boy's third disc. The music here combines the scrappy, psychedelic folk of Hour of Bewilderbeast with the more melodic and sentimental "About a Boy" soundtrack. Gough's a very agile songwriter, able to move through several different styles in one track, while weaving with his lyrics strange, dreamlike scenarios grounded in the details of everyday life.

On "You Were Right," Gough sings to someone he has disappointed, promising her tickets to what she needs, and saying he can't blame her for getting on with her life while he searched for answers and wrote his songs. In the middle of this, he details a dream in which he was married to the queen and living next door to Madonna. She "took a shine" to him but he turned her down. He then goes on to pay tribute to Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, Jeff Buckley and Kurt Cobain. And throws in a whistling solo at the end. It sounds like a lot. But Gough blends it together well, and then brings it all up again in "Tickets to What You Need," one of the final songs on the disc. In "Tickets," a piano-driven, Beatles-like romp, Gough also hugs the eiderdown comforter he says he needed in the title track, giving a writerly closure to his musings.

In the middle of the CD is an aural equivalent of a magazine centerfold, a track titled "Centrepeace." It's lush and delicious, like a centerfold can be, consisting only of an orchestra of stringed instruments. It's a lightweight pause in the middle of all the angst.

The following track, "How," is one of the best on the disc. It bounces between remorse, asking for more time on top of a quietly strumming guitar, and a frustrated rant, backed by heavier horns and strings. Gough asks his lover to "come back and be all that you need; another mouth to feed." As the music becomes harder, Gough's voice becomes louder, asking, "How can I give you the answers you need/ When all I possess is a melody?/ How can I take up the air that you breathe/ When all I possess is a melody?" This isn't a couple that had a blissful few months together. These are people who have tried running a home together, arguing over who will bring home the bacon and who will make career sacrifices.

Gough has had a lot of critical praise and success since his first release in 2000. And he's apparently still digesting it all. He sings about all the possibilities landing at his feet, and in the final song, a lullaby of sorts, he says not to worry about the money and the wealth. It's not always easy to listen to such self-reflection. But his sense of humor keeps the tone playful. Or, when the lyrics become more serious, he picks up the tempo and offsets the somber words with a rollicking beat. On "40 Days and 40 Fights," one of the bounciest songs on the disc, he opens by saying, "You look a lot, lot better tonight/ You and I should go out for a fight." He sounds pretty bitter about the 40 days and fights through much of the song, while the piano and drums prevent any sense of defeat. And in the end, so does Gough, reassuring us that there was something beautiful about the experience.

One of the CD's sweetest moments comes at the beginning of "Bedside Story," the last track. He counts one, a little toddler voice says "two," then a baby makes an "aaaaaaaa" sound, followed by a woman's voice saying "four." Gough's like a proud dad, whipping out the family snapshots in his wallet. It's a moment of fleeting family glee, soon to be overwhelmed by the toys on the floor, the fish that need to be fed and the bed in need of a new eiderdown.

by Lori Miller Barrett

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