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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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Joanna Newsom
The Milk-Eyed Mender
Drag City

Joanna Newsom is 22. She's from San Francisco. She plays keyboards in glam-ish rock-strut outfit The Pleased. But her instrument of choice is the concert harp. A "Lyon & Healy style 15 harp." On the Nervous Cop record, a collaboration between Bay Area drummers Greg Saunier (of damaged/daisy-age savant-pop kittens Deerhoof) and Zach Hill (from super-tight post-metal guitar/drum duo Hella), her cascading harp is intermittently strewn through the spastic cut-ups of the pair's buzzing percussion, like glimpses of angelic visions amidst the duo's sheer hellish miasma. The harp is also Newsom's instrument of choice as a solo songwriter, although her most choice instrument is, far and away, her voice, a throaty call whose screech is pure idiosyncrasy, a wail on par with Karen Dalton, or Björk, or Billie Holiday, or any of those other iconic vocalists you think of as having a voice that is only their own. Newsom's singing has already led her to keeping company with Devendra Banhart, Chan Marshall, and Will Oldham; and, in such company, Newsom transcends the company she keeps, her singing surpassing any of the vocalized efforts of all of those celebrated songsmiths, her art seeming beyond the definite defined definitions that can definitively box in all those lyrical wonders. Plucking at her harp, singing in such unbearably beautiful tones, it's like her art is coming quivering from her stomach, dredged up from deep in her guts. And, rending through the contents of her insides, Newsom doesn't divine the future, but uses her artistic divination to draw up spirits from the past, the distance between her modern music and the folk songs of yore erased the moment she opens her mouth, such enchanted incantation filling her throat with the voices of countless spirits, intoning fragments of folk who once sung in their own hallowed tones, as if each breath she draws draws on history itself. Her own individualist spirit seems above and beyond prescribed pop-cultural partitions, the sounds of The Milk-Eyed Mender soaring as they come out of the speakers, seeming less the frequencies transmitting from digitally-encoded plastic and more a product of the air they cascade into, of the same caprice as the dust that swims in it; this sound seems of the breeze, of the trees, of leaves, earth, sky and light; of the sun; of the God communing only in the space between it and you. Newsom makes music that is majestic and magical, laced with spells whose power seems almost unbelievable in this day and age. Listening to it provokes the most physical reaction in me; fills me with billowing emotions, thrills me, swells my heart, makes me feel like bursting, turned to tears by some mixture of joy and sadness and disbelief and grief and pride and reverence. Like it's just SO BEAUTIFUL I want to cry because it seems the only reaction that the music deserves. Like I daren't do anything less. Like just listening, just loving it, just being enthralled, in thrall to it, trapped by its truth, frozen by its beauty, lost in its wonder, this doesn't come close to reciprocity. How else do you respond to something so staggering? And how do you respond, then, in words, to something so immeasurable you're hesitant to shame its angel-name by dragging it into the commodified realm of the record review? How do you make the words therein evoke something so raw, so rare, so poetic, so profound, so precious? How do you take her words, quoting Newsom singing "and some machines are dropped from great heights lovingly/ and some great bellies ache with many bumblebees/ and they sting so terribly," and convey the way they come snaking out her mouth, with a trembling tenor that seems like the hum of her shivering soul, shaking with the power of an impossible artistry, one barely believable as being contained in but one person? How can you even try and define the indefinable that makes The Milk-Eyed Mender seem like, quite possibly, the most amazing recording you've ever come across? And how do you write that, that which I just wrote, without seeming like some salivating hack hyperbolizing without inhibition, even when writing that really seems like it doesn't even come close to matching the immensity of your feelings?

by Anthony Carew

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