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Saturday, November 1, 2014 
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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
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+ 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
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British Sea Power
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The Decline Of British Sea Power
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British Sea Power. The name alone strongly suggests that this young band is a bit off. Their stage show — reported to feature props best suited to a Max Fischer Players production — reinforces this notion. But ultimately it's their debut album, The Decline of British Sea Power, that trumpets the band's daftness loud and clear.

But it's an endearing daftness, to be sure. Decline... kicks off with a brief choral chant before launching into a treble-heavy, manic thrash number that finds lead singer Yan shouting about an attractive man named Fyodor, bad acid, gymnastic whores, and molasses. Naturally, it's entitled "Apologies to Insect Life." That it's followed by a nearly identical (but thankfully shorter) track makes one suspect that this may be as much a test as an actual contemporary rock-type album.

But there are rewards for passing this short three-song exam, in the form of a series of extremely good songs, beginning with the fourth track, the pastoral "Something Wicked." At this point it becomes clear that despite the pretty melodies brought forth through the band's guitars and keys, Yan's hushed, often-overdramatic vocal approach may be the make-or-break factor for appreciating British Sea Power. He redeems himself on the more straightforward hard rock of "Remember Me," then emerges triumphant on "Fear of Drowning," which concerns itself with provincialism (consensus: it's bad) and the need to escape home to truly appreciate it.

The band's blend of whimsy and wonderfulness is perhaps best exemplified by "The Lonely," which starts out in that jangly-yet-muscular vein that Britbands just seem to do better than anyone else these days. Sumptuous, echoing guitar leads wrap around straightforward rhythms while Yan delivers the opening lines, the song's charms unfolding on the piano-driven chorus: "I'll drink all day and play by night/ Upon my Casio electric piano/ Till in the darkness I see lights/ But not candelabra/ But things from other stars." Keys delicately dance about as the singer delivers the strange little punch line of "Just like Liberace/ I will return to haunt you with peculiar piano riffs," which is likely better appreciated when heard rather than read. It truly is a marvelously melancholy gem of a song.

"Carrion" merges the hard and soft sides of the band's personality, with a bluesy guitar riff skirting around and through an angelic, largely acoustic tune in which Yan successfully rhymes "cried," "died," and "formaldehyde." Multi-instrumentalist Hamilton takes the helm on the ballad "Blackout," which finds his Yan-like voice backed by Gregorian chants on the bridge. The 14 tepid, overblown minutes of "Lately" are perhaps 10 more than we need, while the stripped-down sound of album closer "A Wooden Horse" offers an interesting contrast to the layered sound the band crafts on the preceding tracks.

British Sea Power remind us that there are some things that make no sense, which is different than those that are just nonsense. While some of their songs deliver nothing more than noisy twaddle, British Sea Power are a formidable band when they choose to simply stop making sense.


by Steve Gozdecki




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