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+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
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+ Camille - Le Fil
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+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
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+ 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
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+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
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+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
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+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
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+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
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+ 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
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+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
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Tara Jane ONeil
You Sound, Reflect

Tara Jane ONeil, a songwriter familiar with working with the physical tools of an artist, described the process of making — or finishing, more like — her latest album as akin to making a quilt: stitching together bits and pieces fashioned from differing fabrics at different points of time, and hoping to make something functionally whole from such. It was the same way she assembled her first solo disc, Peregrine — though debuts tend to be like that, don't they — and the same way she assembled her recent off-cuts collection Bones — though discs compiled as such tend to be like that, don't they — yet, to her, this needle-and-thread assemblage felt new all over. On the gloriously-monikered You Sound, Reflect, the Louisvillian wanderer, currently calling Portland, Oregon, home, settles down with a down-home collection of songs exploring her narcotic outsider-Americana. Her fourth proper solo longplayer is a distillation of recent dabblings, gathering threads she'd drawn out at length — the drum-machine thunk and rudimentary loops of TJO TKO, the instrumentalist scene-music of Music for a Meteor Shower, the stripped-down sketches of Bones — all together on a disc that reels these back towards the particular, personal sound she wove on her first two solo discs, Peregrine and In the Sun Lines.

It still is that metaphorical quilt, of course, with differing artistic colors coming to the fore at varying times. On some numbers, ONeil uses rhythm very directly — "forcefully" is the wrong term for music as sweetly diffident as this — but, as the album rolls out, the artist starts to strip away such rhythm. "A Snapshot" features plenty of sleigh-bells and some distant drumming, but the most forthright thing there is the singer's multi-track'd vocals (which sound more beautiful than ever on the record), which sing out in some sort of seasonal caroling, b'fore the song builds up a voluminous clamor of meaty piano chords and sinewy electric guitar that grows to swallow the lusty chorus. After that, though, the disc's final songs establish a stilled, calm air that lulls the longplayer to a gentle conclusion. On "Known Perils," the rhythm is staked out by ONeil's stalking guitar playing, and the polyrhythmic tension comes from laid-over lines of violin from Liarbird's Nora Danielson, which rub up against each other with warming friction. On close, on "Tea Is Better Than Poison," ONeil uses the melodica, whose innate rhythm is the cyclical breathing of the player, to establish the song's opaque nature, this final instrumental stanza — in which acoustic guitar dances with more of Danielson's violin and bass from her bandmate Themba Lewis (herself an artist behind some amazing rock-show poster-art) — feeling like a lengthy exhalation, a breathing out in which the album slowly lets go of all the instruments ONeil's used throughout its rambling 42 minutes, ending the disc with a lonesome banjo that slowly picks its way out of the melodica's breathy fog.

It's this song, there, that shows that ONeil is starting to understand such multi-instrumentalist home recording better. Whilst she's hardly a dub producer just yet, there is a sense of "navigating through space" that the songsmith cultivates on much of this set. Compared to the bare-boned skeleton-songs of Bones, it's not like this album could be called a "stripping away" from earlier solo forays, but ONeil no longer seems like an at-home player in whose tendencies linger vestiges of her post-rocker history. She's still assembling songs — and albums — from varying pieces, but no longer is she laying a foundation and then sewing on layer after layer of "finishing touches." Here, we hear a song like the gorgeous "The Poisoned Mine" (previously previewed on Bones), and all the instruments surrounding ONeil's central singing/guitar-playing do little to obscure this, the added sound not various gossamer layers whose thickness soon makes for a dense, ghostly clouds, but instead seeming like the most delicate touches stitched around her song's edges — the sewn whole a tune as warm and reassuring as the most treasured childhood blanket.

by Anthony Carew

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