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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
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The Polyphonic Spree
Together We're Heavy

All the major organized religions are archaic anachronisms, cultivating stasis — and, in such, inertia, and, in such, death — in all the tenets and traditions they dogmatically cling to. So it's no surprise that the spiritual searchings of modern man lead to cults, where beliefs are fashioned from the au courant of the new age, and where structure is forsaken for more mercurial interpretations of the essence of existence. Some of the greatest cults, these days, trail in the wake of popular culture, from grand institutions like Tolkienism and Trekkieism through all those collectophile kids who find truth and wisdom in, like, Dashboard Confessional b-sides. But when the forms of popular culture themselves model themselves after new-age religious cults, does that make them more likely to engender devotion, or be dismissed as some novelty act? Such a theosophical question reverberates loudly throughout Together We're Heavy, the second album for the Polyphonic Spree, the sunbeaming-pop orchestra whose 22-member rank-and-file ranks kit themselves out in robes while singing songs — part pop-song, part hymn — that seem in thrall to the idea of some greater sense of "universe." In their Beginning Stages, the outfit openly took their cues from wacky Christian-revivalist clan the Danielson Famile, but where the Danielsons have always seemed like some considered, twisted take on the artifice of the traveling family of faith-loving entertainers, and, in such, have always kept themselves at an idiosyncratic distance, the Polyphonic Spree seem like they're genuinely opening up their arms, inviting you into their we're-all-one-big-family enclave that offers hope and joy amidst the hopelessness and cynicism of the modern world.

On this second album, this crew expand on everything from their debut, trying to outdo the warped Disneyist fantasias of Mercury Rev, as Tim DeLaughter leads his disciples into a grander sounding surround-sound epoch, where all those instrumental colorings are clearer, and the individual qualities of the voices in their choir shine through even when they're all belting it out together. The lyrics are, once more, a collection of peace-love-and-music slogans dressed up for the dawning of the Age of, uh, Taurus, or something. Together We're Heavy finds many of the refrains from the first disc recast in different settings; things tend to focus on love, the sun, and the passing of time, these reaching a nice nexus when "Two Thousand Places" concludes "And time will show the way/ And love will shine today/ And time will go away/ So love can come." In these proclamations, the Spree sound more and more like they're spouting cultish cant; but, whilst others may be turned off if it turns out this game of dress-ups is really for real, for me the presence of a real religion at the core of all this would be the best medicine to redress the quick slide into the realm of "novelty act" that looms in the Polyphonic Spree's future.

by Anthony Carew

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