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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.
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+ 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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+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
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Thea Gilmore
Hungry Dog

When my roommate heard me listening to Thea Gilmore's newest album, Avalanche, she said that Gilmore sounded like Fiona Apple, a thought that had crossed my mind upon first listen. It would be easy to classify her as a Fiona Apple type: a smoky-eyed and smoky-voiced chanteuse who sounds wise beyond her years. But Gilmore really deserves more credit than to be classified as merely sounding like Apple, or any other female pop musician; instead she sounds like someone who majored in the Great Songwriters, absorbing the influence of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits (among others) to create an album of songs of intimate and smart-edged beauty. She has five albums to her credit and is already working on her sixth, a collection of covers, making it hard to believe she is only 23 years old. Upon the release of Avalanche last year, the British press hailed her as the best singer/songwriter from their shores in years. That's a lot of hype to live up to, so it's a good thing that she can deliver.

"Mainstream," the centerpiece of the album, is a fiery folk song with a Dylanesque delivery of such pointed lyrics as: "Who's gonna train us, can you really blame us?/ If we grow up we're all going to be famous." She seems to have especial venom for the superficialities of pop culture in her songs, echoing the disdain she has shown in interviews for record companies who sell their artists based on their sexed-up, photogenic looks rather than their music. (Gilmore resisted joining a major label in order to have creative control, releasing albums on her own label, Shameless, until joining with British indie Hungry Dog for Avalanche.)

"Razor Valentine" is a darkly elegant piece of pop, her voice sensual and sardonic as she takes on the conventions of Celine Dion mushiness with lines like "I love you like the factory smoke/ Wraps its arms around the sky." While songs like "Mainstream" and "Razor Valentine" are fun for their bite and swagger, it's her softer, more personal-sounding material that is most affecting and memorable.

The dreamy "Pirate Moon" is haunting upon first listen, gorgeous in its poetic intimacy. It is the song you will find yourself returning to again and again, especially when like Gilmore in the song, you long for a place to disappear.

"Eight Months" is a bluesy, delicate track, a musical travelogue that spans the globe from Toronto to New Zealand to London, with Gilmore passionately pleading to have "Eight months/ To see it all." "The Cracks" is equally lovely, featuring Gilmore's best vocal performance. A criticism of Gilmore is that she does not vary her singing style from song to song, a comment that has some merit, especially on the first half of the album. But on "The Cracks," Gilmore sounds amazing, her voice a blend of optimism and vulnerability that dovetails beautifully with the cello on the track.

"I'll show you my heart/ If you show me yours," Gilmore sings on "The Cracks," and in listening to Avalanche, you do feel like she has revealed not just her heart in her music, but also her intelligence, talent and grace. The British and American mainstream haven't yet heard of Thea Gilmore, but given the quality of her music, it's only a matter of time.

by Kirthana Ramisetti

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