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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
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+ Camille - Le Fil
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+ 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
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+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
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+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
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+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
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+ 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
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+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
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+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
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Kamera EP

Though the strength of Wilco in their post-Jay Bennett incarnation will not be fully apparent until the band's official follow-up to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, this year's early influx of new Tweedy material is evidence enough that the curmudgeonly lead-elf can certainly manage his own affairs. After a career of releases that find Tweedy leaning on others for support (or supporting others) — Jay Farrar, Jim O'Rourke, Billy Bragg, Bennett — this new EP, available as a bonus disc with limited edition copies of Foxtrot, is our first recorded glimpse of Tweedy the solo, confident troubadour.

Obviously, Tweedy's strength as a songwriter has manifested itself over and again throughout Wilco's catalogue. Tweedy's a more charismatic and accomplished artist than Bennett; his mix of mysticism with minor-key world-weariness has always been tempered by Bennett's knack for functional and lush orchestration. So it would make sense that, in the vacuum created by Bennett's disputed departure from the band, Tweedy would revert to the slanted bard Bennett had been working to reform.

But he hasn't. His gift for making abstract poetics emotionally resonant is the driving force behind "Woodgrains" and "Bob Dylan's 49th Beard" — two songs whose spare foundation of chords and quiet noises sounds like Tweedy recording solo from Jim O'Rourke's bedroom. There's a hushed strength to the compositions that suggests a new direction for Tweedy (if not for the entire band). As on Foxtrot, he pulls feeling from the spaces between the notes, from the atmosphere he creates with a tired voice. But here it feels stronger, emptier — there's more emotion to extract from a bigger void.

Conversely, two of the EP's tracks employ the grand mechanics of Summerteeth's most Brian Wilson-esque moments: "Magazine Called Sunset," with its jumpy piano and soaring strings, and an alternate version of Foxtrot's "Kamera," a more direct and forceful take on the song. "Sunset" is a sweeping melody with Bennett's fingerprints all over it, while the beauty of "Kamera" lies in its pounding repetition.

But it's the disc's final track that makes the strongest case for Wilco's brighter future. "More Like the Moon" ambles simply through basic country-folk guitar picking, until synths swoop in from behind and Tweedy starts plucking a pensive and involved monologue from his acoustic. "I see us all as something, nothing like we truly are," Tweedy musters from somewhere in the gorgeous gloom, and his guitar starts talking again, summoning ghosts. The instrumentals are languid and flowing, the singing low and sweet. The song is stripped down but full, almost bursting, with things unsaid and instruments unplayed. One can only hope that Wilco's next opus will offer such crystalline melancholy in such a simple and comforting way.

by Neal Block

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