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+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
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+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
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+ 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
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Dreamer's Book
Red Panda

On her first foray into solo recording, as Mascott on the Electric Poems EP, former Juicy songsmith Kendall Jane Meade authored a fragile set of soft-pop pop-songs that had a slight folkie influence, her depictions of rainy days and Mondays getting down to a downheart'd mood that finished up amidst the home-recorded fragility of "Baby, Go Away," which set Mascott's wavering voice and gentle acousticky strums amidst the sound of passing traffic. For her first longplayer, she hooked up with hot-shit producers who sculpted the sound around her, the Ladybug Transistor's Jeffrey Baron and the renowned Diamond Jim O'Rourke knowing enough about top tone and natty instrumentage to take Meade's soft-heart'd tunes and dress them in all the right opulent threads.

It's taken Meade four years to make her next Mascott record, and, since then, the Detroit native and sometime Brooklynite has returned to Boston, it seems, putting together a "Dreamer's Book Band" comprising players who shared her college-years college-rock roots in the Bostonian mid-'90s. Whilst having Jim O'Rourke on board last time cast a light of coolness on Meade that mightnt've matched her kinda dorky, expressedly sentimental songs, this time the roped-in contributors are much less hip, her backing-band assembled from a bunch of long-forgotten alterna-names that the kids of today would've never heard of: Reservoir, Varnaline, Space Needle, The Godrays, The Dambuilders. Sure, Mary Timony — in whose band Meade once played — turns up, and the guy from Sparklehorse who produced Mary T's last longplayer, Al Weatherhead, is behind the desk for much of Dreamer's Book. But, this time around, it's more about the consistency of a band than it is about matching Meade's melancholy songs with different people and differing ideas. Which means this record is less ad-hoc, but it's also much more straight, forsaking playful pop moments and cute studio accoutrements to dress Mascott in a set of tasteful tunes, the gathered musicians playing pleasantly around Meade's central songwriting with a circumspect sense of respect, I guess.

As songsmith, Meade usually evokes the meaninglessness of most pop-song lyrics, hoping that the syllables she sighs match melodies more than tell stories. This album, more than her previous discs, seems pepper'd with first-person pronouns; although, of course, this could just be how I remember it. Even when she introduces things through the medium of "I," Meade rarely sounds like these scenes she recalls are autobiographical, even though it is perhaps their real-life reality that makes her lyrics seem like abstract references to events that she doesn't want to depict in their grim detail. For the kind of songsmith she is, I tend to get the feeling she should be filling her songs with all kinds of landmarks — observed images, weather, proper names of people and places — so as to create a geography in which her lyrics are able to live, these depicted environs razing the blandness of the "universal" for the savagery of the specific. Of course, all this tends not to matter so much when Meade nails a lodge-in-your-head type melody, like on the glorious "Kite," whose chiming guitars are so charming it matters little that the lyrics never move far from the refrain "Baby, you're a rising kite," such an observation leading to the proffered dreaming "wish I may, I wish you might/ fly into my bed tonight."

by Anthony Carew

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