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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
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+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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The Cuts
2 Over 10

From the bohemian-living-room group photo on the cover, it's obvious that these young San Franciscans are one of the numerous new bands that look back to the '60s and '70s for inspiration. However, before you write them off as just another bunch of knock-off artists dressed in thrift-store drag, take a listen to what I believe is one of the best new bands I've heard in quite some time.

To quote Dylan (who, natch, stole the title from blackface-minstrel historian Eric Lott), all rock music rooted in the past is a product of both "love and theft." It's really all a matter of being a good pickpocket, and smart enough to recast your swipes into something that feels fresh. Hip-hop producers do it all the time, and it's considered brave post-modernism, so I don't know why a band like The Cuts, who at times during this record remind me of such diverse artists as the Small Faces, Television, Supergrass, and All Things Must Pass-era George Harrison, shouldn't be praised for doing the same thing.

The biggest problem with so much '60s-inspired rock is that it basically breaks down into two camps: the garage rockers (Mooney Suzuki, The D4, et al.) and the psychedelic poppers (Apples in Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control). Both camps seem to miss a lot of what made rock from that era great. Their albums are either all choppy I-IV-V chord progressions or overdone Pet Sounds orchestral fussiness. The Cuts don't think they should have to choose between rocking and pomping it up, so they do both at the same time, with a loose-limbed virtuosity and sharp songwriting skills.

These guys can play, and do their songs a service with arrangements that swagger as sure as the Black Crowes in their prime, while incorporating casually complex (but never intrusive) arrangements that mix spidery guitar parts, liquid leads, and bubbly organ touches into something that I'd best describe as Traffic tackling some unreleased Television b-sides. Or maybe vice versa, given that frontman Andy Jordan's voice bears a sometimes uncanny resemblance to Tom Verlaine's.

Recorded in Memphis's Easley Studios by garage-rock cult hero Greg Cartwright (né Greg Oblivion of the psycho-garage legends The Oblivions, as well as the Compulsive Gamblers), the album delicately decorates its '70s chug, every boogie riff lounging on a cushion of organ and keyboard flourishes.

Likewise, the lyrics balance fake toughness with fake naïvete like any good hipster boys on the make should. On the stunning opener, "How Can I Get Through," Jordan casually dismisses an ex-lover, claiming, "They say you've changed/ A little different from the rest/ I see through your disguise," later boasting, "I want you dead/ Put poison in your drink."

Of course, he's lying; all The Cuts really want is girls that will love them as much as they love themselves. In "Paradise," a drop-dead gorgeous mid-tempo come-on as convincing as any I've heard in a while, they've got a song that should help them get more than a few indie girls out of their low-rise Levis. Heck, the first time I heard Dan Aaberg sing the deadly-catchy chorus ("Gotta place where they can never find us/ And I'll keep you close by me/ Every step you know they're right behind us/ But when they come around/ They'll be nothing to see") I was about ready to cut class and jump in the van with these guys.

They do a great job of evoking their influences without emulating them, with the exception of "Didn't Live Enough," which showcases rumbling drums and spiraling guitar lines that were enough to almost convince me that it was a lost track from Marquee Moon. It's the only time they really show their hand, and it's good enough that you won't mind a bit. I'm not complaining, as it's probably better than half of Television's second album, Adventure, and all of their 1992 self-titled reunion record.

If you have any interest in classic rock, you owe it to yourself to buy this record. Don't wait until it turns up as a "lost classic" in Mojo 10 years from now.

by Matt Helgeson

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