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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 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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+ Espers - II
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The Liberty Ship

The Liberty Ship, a four-piece from Nottingham, England, play the kind of sparkling pop music conceived in intimate spaces. Alight with intelligent references and tangible feeling, not sentiment, it recalls Blueboy's sensitive indie-pop exemplar: "I am young and I am not cynical." Tide, the band's full-length debut, draws from the eloquence of pop (The Go-betweens and Pale Fountains) as well as its consonant jangle (Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and The Bluebells).

It is the kind of skyward, brilliant pop music that happened but was largely unclaimed, save for those who loved it. A secret happening of shimmering guitars, fanzines and badges with band names, it was an early '80s thing, spilling over into the '90s, that went largely overlooked by the mainstream music press. Sarah, Esurient Communication, Postcard and Creation are a few of the labels considered a signature of that fond, initiate time. Alistair Fitchett, longtime pop affectionate and designer for several Esurient sleeves, assays the elements with capital letters. Spirit. Pop. Magic. Young and Foolish: A Personal Pop Odyssey, Fitchett's musical diary of sorts, is as reflective as it is communal: "You see for me this is what matters. Not so much the noises themselves, but the way they affect and effect changes to the everyday, how they make the extraordinary out of the ordinary."

Tide is likewise thoughtful and unassuming, just what you might expect from Marc Elston (vocals, guitar), onetime songwriter in the band Bulldozer Crash. Of course it is an album of practiced guitar pop. However, softer, less protected turns of self-reflection are also in evidence, often made more winning when Rachel Eyres (vocals, guitar) is at the front, especially "Final Kick" and "Stars Above." The former, a wistful trade-off, reveals the ache of hanging on, approaching the matchless tread of both Grant McLennan and Stuart Murdoch. "Stars Above," written and sung by Eyres, is ingenue fare with a folky rave-up: "She's praying and placing her hopes on the stars above/ 'Cos what is a life/ Tell me what is a life without love." Throughout Eyres is attendantly pretty, like Isobel Campbell or Pam Berry, while Elston is reminiscent of Roddy Frame's open ease.

"Baseball Caps and Novas" is one of the standouts, social query with a Rickenbacker gloss: "Can you give me any reason/ Why you find modern life displeasing/ And you find your journey's paved with broken glass/ And smashed up bones?" A cool tambourine alongside Tim Wade's punchy bass line and Steve Mietlinski's lively percussion is heady fun. "Cabin Fever" is also of note. Warding off another's unspooling at sea is an unlikely agent of literate pop, but it works well here: "Young man sailor boy beware/ Infected with the madness captains knew too well/ When cabin fever gets to you/ The sun comes crying from the deep."

"Yuri Gagarin" is a novelty closer but in a good way, enjoying the curves and shapes of electronica in the same way the Field Mice did. A storied cosmonaut launches amid keyboards, punctuating bass fuzz and flowering sounds.

Tide is an excellent reading of modern pop's fervent, badge-trading beginnings, heartful and versed. It is no surprise then that the Liberty Ship have found themselves at Matinee, a prestige indie-pop label that counts the Lucksmiths among its international roster and recently pressed the final Fairways recording. Such residency can only lead to better records from the Liberty Ship, a band whose melodies are equal to their expressiveness.

by Jennifer Przybylski

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