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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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+ 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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The New Year
The End Is Near
Touch And Go

Matt and Bubba Kadane, ex-linchpins of Bedhead, continue to embrace "the comfort in being sad" on this, their second album as the New Year. With their musical cohorts, including Chris Brokaw on drums, they expound a vaguely millennial angst but narrow its focus onto the personal. They combine the angular dread of Joy Division with the slow burn of the Velvet Underground (circa the third album), underpinned with some sinuous rock dynamics and topped off with laconic, sometimes languid vocals, and lyrics that seem to take a knowing nod at both the band's musical antecedents and at the whole "sad" ethos.

Perfectly poised between bitterweet melody and encroaching gloom, "The End's Not Near" is the opening song, its title deceptively optimistic, its lyrical punch line simple but deadly: "The end's not near/ It's here...." The vocals sound washed out, comfortably numb, but the frankness in their delivery is more effective than any over-emoting could be.

On "Sinking Ship," the narrative voice calmly dissects a disintegrating situation, then withdraws: "I just wanna get out of here and unhook my smile from my ears... all these quick friendships can't survive the sinking ship." "Chinese Handcuffs" is another metaphor: "Things that bind in pain/ Keep us in love." It's a bleak song lyrically, but with a firm sense of momentum and with a dynamic instrumental backing. It ripples with a refined, musical musculature, peppered with short outbursts of noisy guitar.

At the start of the portentously titled "Age of Conceit" the lyrics state, "I don't believe in what I now have to believe in," and later finish by declaring "This is a new age/ Of conceit," echoing the old Velvet Underground song, then adding a new twist. In truth, there's a bit of that conceit in the band's music, a solipsism that hovers over it, preserving a sense of distance around it.

"They" figure largely in the lyrics — "They jump in bed like it's the end of the world" — the perpetual other observed from an outsider's laconic viewpoint. And eventually these no longer sound like songs for the disenchanted and disenfranchised, but more the products of an all-powerful narrative voice, coolly detailing the causes and symptoms of breakdown and disengagement.

It's fortunate, then, that the streamlined, subtle attack of the band's music overrides these shortcomings, conveying both power and sensitivity (and occasionally stretching song-defined boundaries, as with the extended guitar sprawl on the penultimate track, "18").

by Tom Ridge

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