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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

44.1 kHz Archive

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The Concretes
The Concretes
Licking Fingers

First there were three of them. Three teenage girls, three city girls, vaguely afraid of the outdoors, calling themselves The Concretes to befit such, wanting to start a band to show the boys in Stockholm that they could do it too. They had to learn how to play an instrument, any instrument; had to find one of them who wasn't too scared to sing, but they did this by taking their cues from The Ronettes, striving to embody such strutting sass as they picked up guitar/microphone/drumstick for the very first time. Then there were six of them, with actual boys roped in, wanting to indulge in extra instruments, with bass and analog organ and mandolin all brought on board, this beefed-up mix taking cues from Phil Spector as they sought to build a wall of sound as imposing as any of the city's concrete structures to which the group's nomenclature is forever indebted. Then there were two records, which became one album, which became Boyoubetterunow, which as debut signaled that something truly special was going on deep in the heart of the heart of Stockholm's city. Forget the urban jungle, though, because instead of going under, The Concretes were transcending all these limitations of structure and geography and pop-cultural stereotype, their disc at pirouetting play in some ungodly-good Elysian Fields of girl-group reverie and beautifully-recorded twang and pretty playfulness and light-headed romance and all of that good good-stuff. If Sweden had given up great girl-fronted groups in the recent days before them — Komeda, The Cardigans, Red Sleeping Beauty — The Concretes were without doubt, as the hip-hoppers say, some of that next level shit. Actually, forget the next level, forget the top floor, even, they were above all that, transcending the imposed ceilings of the city that is their (conceptual, even) home, going beyond all such limitations of place so often kept in place. After that album settled, and no one despite Bob Stanley (and me!) seemed to see the glory for how glorious it truly was, then The Concretes returned to their home and set out setting out all over again. First there were seven of them. Then eight of them. Now there are around 10 of them regularly, 12 most times they play live, 15 on a good night. Even more when they get any-friend-who-can-sing up on stage in some of the, like, choral moments. We're talking as many as can fit, minus the robes, minus the desire to make a marketing angle out of the size and scope of all of them, together; especially because it still really seems like, at core, The Concretes are still just three girl-group girls. Here, now, there's instruments sprawling out everywhere, strings and organs stacked up to the sky, vocals heading up to heaven on the holiness of this pop-cultural purity. An elephant's eye is an inappropriately low metaphor to imply the sky-high heights to which The Concretes' craft now soars as they now take cues only from themselves, feeding off the fact that they're, to these ears, the best pop band in the history of time. Or, well, uh, OK, at least the best pop band in the history of this moment; playing up a debut disc proper that's the best record in the history of 2003 as it stands so far. It's rare, for me, to meet a record even deserving of vague allusions to such hyped-up hyperbole, not to mention the fact that indulging in such, even if you see it as deserved, is the kind of shit that gives cats scrawling words about albums a bad name. But, my friend, this is the rarest of records, and, like, this purple prose comes from a heart swollen with a listener's love, love transcending the tacky nature of fandom, I hope, and being only as pure as the intent of this record. Oh, I do swoon.

by Anthony Carew

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