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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
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44.1 kHz Archive

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Jens Lekman
Maple Leaves/ Rocky Dennis EP
Secretly Canadian

When I first got Vince Gallo's When longplayer, I thought that "I Wrote This Song for the Girl Paris Hilton" was the most beautiful song-titling I'd ever come across, its straightforward yet fanciful name using such rich and evocative language, at once confessional, cryptic, authorly, elusive. Only for me to then discover that there really was, and is, a girl called Paris Hilton, and not only was, and is, there a girl called Paris Hilton, but, well, then I discovered what the girl Paris Hilton stood for, and stands for; and soon, with title tainted, the song itself started to lose its romance, it being now not some mysterious ode to some mysterious figure (a transient person, perhaps; a girl met fleetingly in a foreign hotel, now just a memory to cast romantic projections onto), but just a conduit for Gallo to get his prodigious penis into some piece of prime pussy. Discovering that there really is a Rocky Dennis isn't quite as heartbreaking, but the central figure on Swedish songsmith Jens Lekman's two four-song EPs — Maple Leaves and Rocky Dennis EP — still might've made him seem more writerly if he'd authored him out of thin air, not stolen him from some pre-extreme-surgery-Cher-starring based-on-a-true-story motion picture. On his Maple Leaves disc, Lekman is apparently writing songs in character, but, by the end of the Rocky Dennis EP, he's in transition, the third song therein titled "Jens Lekman's Farewell Song to Rocky Dennis". Lekman, as artist, is defined by his croon, a sad-sack Morrissey-ish moan whose tone colors a range of tunes. The opening title-track salvo from Maple Leaves introduces such a croon as going hand-in-hand with very Avalanches-like production, which pulls summery samples of swelling strings, twittering flutes, and chiming guitars, speeds them up a little, and works them into a opaque whole whose hissing inconsistency is consistent with the crackling tonality of dusty vinyl. Later, on such an EP, "Black Cab" finds him sampling the guitar-line from the Left Banke's "I've Got Something on My Mind," laying his own McGuinn-styled guitar in chiming tones over the top, Lekman's lyrics-to-go-with telling a tale of himself (as Rocky Dennis?) ruining the vibe at a party, then missing the last tram home. The Rocky Dennis EP starts with another song — "Rocky Dennis Farewell Song to the Blind Girl" — sampling glistening flute/strings/piano/tuned-percussion and dishing up his dapper voice out front. In such a postmodern neo-pop presentation, the comparisons could turn to Erlend Øye, the Kings of Convenience frontman whose time away from his Garfunkelesque day job finds him crooning electro-pop tunes authored by hot-shit electrko pr'ducers; or, then, to Magnet, the dorky Norwegian cowboy who marries busy Sir Dupermann beats to twangy tabletop slide-guitar. But what makes Lekman great is how he gets his I-wear-black-on-the-outside-because-black-is-how-I-feel-on-the-inside voice to work wonders in different contexts, both in his woven sample-pastiche weaves, and in spare, slow, sullen numbers. One wondrous one of those is "Sky Phenomenon," a mournful piano ballad where his offhand evocation of the northern lights — "At this time of year/ It's like someone spilled a beer/ All over the atmosphere" — is strangely profound in its simple sing-song sentiments. Drawing more lines between the EPs, "Sky Phenomenon" seems to be a sister city to Rocky Dennis's piano-balladic closer "If You Ever Need a Stranger," the former song's sad lament "But I would not be accepted/ Because I can't dance the funky chicken/ I can't dance the funky chicken" treading similar thematic ground to the latter track's talk of wishing to be a wedding singer as a show of devotion, thoughts climaxing with the lines "I know every song, you name it/ By Bacharach or David/ Every stupid love song that's ever touched your heart/ Every power ballad that's ever climbed the chart." Whilst you can't always draw direct parallels between Lekman's words and his ways — what, with the writing in character, and his use of artistic artifice, and all — it's still safe enough to assume, from such, that Lekman has long longed to be a songsmith, in that old-fashioned sense, and that these early discographical forays have been a lifetime coming.

by Anthony Carew

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