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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
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+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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44.1 kHz Archive

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Faun Fables
Family Album
Drag City

So long an insider-joking boy's-club dishing up dick-clutching discs by the usual smug suspeckts — Will Oldham, Bill Callahan, Neil Michael Hagerty — in some unending loop, Drag City's undergone a curious makeover in the ought-four, the suspiciously silent Smog-in-parenthesis giving up the stage for a slew of spotlit sisters similar only in their empowered pipes: White Magic's Mira Billotte (of DC punk-soul sisters Quix*o*tic), former Scissor-Girl/current piano-balladeer Azita Youssefi, my harp-playing hero Joanna Newsom, and, most vocally dramatic of all, Dawn McCarthy of San Franciscan duo Faun Fables. In thrall to theatricality, McCarthy's artistry is bravely baroque, ditching dusky dilettantism and digging deep in the dank dirt that dwells in the darkest shadows of her aesthetic grotesquerie. Draping herself in sinister images of girlhood, McCarthy takes cues from the eerie kiddie-tales spun in "Picnic At Hanging Rock" and "Flowers in the Attic," then sets them to some sort of cobbled-together Eastern European cabaret, or something, as her flamboyant voice betrays musical influence drawn from the likely likes of Tom Waits and Diamanda Galas.

In a more direct nod, McCarthy covers a Brigitte Fontaine song; but where any gothricky in Fontaine's canon — like L'Incendie, for example — is offset by the audio adventurousness of her collaborateur Areski, whose productions oft set Fontaine's destructive folksinging to austere arrangements, McCarthy is never able to so reduce her palette, it never being her wont to strip things down to simple simplicity. Favoring the erotic, exuberant extravagance of the baroque, McCarthy applies layer after layer of fanciful, frightful sound. Faun Fables are just a duo (Dawn the Faun and Nils Frykdahl, as billed), yet their sound is anything but spartan, the pair throwing all sorts of assorted bits into McCarthy's licorice-black attack, eschewing the usual shades of evoking-the-ghostly — i.e. the eerie qualities of silence — to toss fruitier flavors into Faun Fables' mordant minor-key racket.

As the pages of this Family Album flick over, there's none of the usual ravages of time — bleeding sepias, blank eyes, opaque cakings of dust — that the long-dead children of old photos are normally dressed in. Instead, we have kids capriciously singing, birds calling, Eastern flutes fluttering, banjos plucking, a discursion into programmed beats, Frykdahl's affected Caveian groan as vocal co-star, and, of course, out front, McCarthy indulging in operatic theatricks, wide-throat'd yodeling, holy hymnals, and Polish musicals. And as Dawn the Faun sends various skeletons tumbling out of her family's closet, this disc's a bit like feeling the embrace of the family, its affected affection seeming somewhat suffocating.

by Anthony Carew

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