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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
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+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
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+ 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
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+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
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+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
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+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
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+ 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
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+ 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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44.1 kHz Archive

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The Children's Hour
Rough Trade

Cleaved from biographical information, it'd be easy to imagine The Children's Hour as being some English duo whose ghost has been resurrected from the distant misty fringes of the English folk revival with some kind of 30-years-on reissue of their obscurist music. You can almost imagine Davey Graham-penned liner notes talking of how they, the boy/girl pair of them, cut a couple records before ditching the rock-biz life for the joys of the country — just like Anne Briggs, Vashti Bunyan, or any of those romantic figures whose greatness is only magnified by their transience — to spend subsequent decades in rural solitude. Blessed (or ballasted) with biographical information, you learn that The Children's Hour's boy/girl hail from this here and now — from Chicago, no less — and have spent time on the road opening for the Billy Corgan/Dave Pajo-communed silver-rockin' Zwan. The best bit about such biography being that, even after you know it as fact, it still seems incongruous with their music, which has absolutely naught to do with any notion of Chicago scenesterism at all. With spare, largely acoustic instrumentation, The Children's Hour take their cues from that English folk revival, but do so as much in spirit as anything else, their pretty tunes drawing from folk-song form and traditionalist yearning to paint portraits of idyllic meadows from hither to yon. With wailing singing reminiscent of such fringe folkies as Magic Carpet songsmith Alisha Sufit and one-time Loren Mazzacane Connors collaborateur Kath Bloom, Josephine Foster stirs stirring life into every one of the odes herein, her boisterous voice swooping and soaring like a kite caught at the top of the breeze, simple sung songs like "The Lumberjack Song" and "The Chinese Song" filled with the impelled life breathed into them by the bellows of Foster's lungs. That The Children's Hour really are doing something this pure and goodly in this here and now makes this disc a minor revival unto itself — a precious possession, a prized pinup when speaking of some folk-revival revival, astonishing and profound on both its own artistic terms and, then, when placed in some larger pop-cultural context. Outside of Alasdair Roberts' solo records, it's unlikely any other record of recent years will stir up the long-slumbering spirit of such a treasured time with such assured grace.

by Anthony Carew

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