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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
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+ 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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+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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Snow Tires
Hidden Agenda

With its low-key balladry and lo-fi tenderness evoking dappled pages from Neil Young's audio journal, Snow Tires does for Unbunny frontman Jarid del Deo what There's Nothing Wrong With Love did for Built to Spill's Doug Martsch. The latter talked without nostalgia of stepfathers, Bowie and starry roadtrips without a specific destination (plangent guitar throughout). Snow Tires, Unbunny's fifth release, is similarly inclined, finding del Deo ambling through trailer courts where the night is lit by fires kindled in rusty, oversized drums.

Unbunny (del Deo and his somewhat interchangeable collective) are eloquently aligned with such contemporary artists as Sufjan Stevens, Samuel Beam of Iron & Wine, and even The Shins' James Mercer. While they may appear to be an aptly timed entry, Unbunny have been recording (and releasing) music since 1995 on a scattering of small labels. They had a brief phase as Nervous Plants, releasing a split seven-inch that featured "Mandi," easily one of the most unprotected pleas ever recorded: "Sending you Superchunk on a tape full of songs/ It'll blow you away with content and form/ It's got all the guitar parts in all the right places/ I swear that the songs were written about us." This shy-cool mash note exemplifies where del Deo's heart lies (and what inspires his unguarded songwriting). 

Snow Tires, much like the previous full-length Black Strawberries, is drowsy country-rock guitar with twinklings of orchestral pop, its spare poignancy touching the soul. Paul Chastain brings his appreciable pop resume, joining musicians like Roy Ewing (Braid / Very Secretary) and Velvet Crush bandmate Adam Schmitt, who assisted in the record's mastering. Despite its songs' hazy wandering style, Snow Tires feels well thought out. If the songs fade into each other rather than firmly stopping and beginning anew, it is by agreement. Snow Tires holds the memory of something that's painful, a loaded-car departure that hasn't yet posted enough distance, and the vocals do little to belie this feeling. Neil Young is the easiest grab, of course, but del Deo sounds like a reedier version of the Built to Spill frontman as well, enveloping each song in wistful delivery.

The rending "Nightwalking" sifts what's left of a deadened relationship, disintegrated or just about there: "I've been known to walk at night/ Where streetlights end and dark begins/ And lately I've been occupied with things I should have left behind/ All my shortfalls notwithstanding I could give a lot to you." "FM" amplifies the ache with a children's-choir intro (just like Smog did to cool effect), keyboards glittering like Christmas chimes and a floating electric-guitar solo. "All-night jockey come and save me from the quiet," del Deo whispers into the dark.

A golden return to the confessional tradition, Snow Tires is honest and moving. Lilting in a lo-fi way, Jarid del Deo is so human in his plaint. Holiday lights can no longer save him. Walking the winter streets in the title track, he and a friend pass his ex's car. All he can manage is, "There’s my ex-girlfriend's car." Unbunny want us to understand and, of course, we do.

by Jennifer Przybylski

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