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neumu
Sunday, November 23, 2014 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
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+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
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+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
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+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
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+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
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+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
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+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
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+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
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+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
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+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
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+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
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+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
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+ 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
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+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
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+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
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artist
Robyn Hitchcock
recording
Spooked
Yep Rock
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I admit that I've never professed my love and longing for any of my electronic appliances. It's not that I don't love any of them; it's just that it never occurred to me to do so. And besides, I've been caught too many times talking to myself, and I always feel a little sheepish when questioned by my suspicious interlocutor; I can only imagine how I'd feel if I were ever caught talking to an appliance.

But after listening to "Television," the first track off Robyn Hitchcock's latest release, Spooked, I might just throw caution to the wind, walk into my kitchen, and spill my guts to the coffee-maker. Because "Television," in which Hitchcock reveals his tender feelings to his, well, television, is such a lovely and heartfelt song that it almost seems strange not to speak to those objects we find ourselves sharing more and more of our lives with. The song begins with a delicate guitar line before Hitchcock chimes in with "Bing-a bong-a bing bong" (well, how would you start a song about your television?). "Television, say you love me," Hitchcock continues, and the song unfolds with a subtle grace, charm and wit: "Television I'm so sorry/ If I turned you off back there/ I'm so small in your dimension/ My kid will look like you, I swear." Somehow, Hitchcock makes a love song to this hunk of plastic and wires seem more sincere than most of the love songs sung to humans.

Part of what makes this song, and the entire album, work well is the sympathetic hands, ears, and voices of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings (that's his signature guitar sound at the beginning of "Television"). Rawlings (who also produced the album) and Welch bring an easy and confident quality to their playing and their harmony vocals. When the three voices come together, as they do on the nearly a cappella "Demons & Fiends," they achieve an eerie, sideways take on Americana. Hitchcock's knack for melody and often quirky, absurd lyrics give his two musical partners plenty to work with. "Sometimes a Blond," a rolling mid-tempo song featuring Rawlings on Dobro, is characteristic of Hitchcock's songwriting throughout the album. Referencing ghosts with guns, hound-dogs, bon-bons, and ocelots, the song isn't constructed according to the rules of narrative. Rather, it presents a series of images that build up as the song progresses, leaving the listener with the merest suggestion of a mood. Needless to say, a healthy appreciation of the abstract and strange is a requirement for enjoying this album.

One of the strongest tracks on Spooked is a cover of Bob Dylan's "Tryin' to Get to Heaven Before They Close the Door." Hitchcock's gravely vocals, Rawlings' guitar, and Welch's harmony vocals perfectly capture the weary, resigned air of Dylan's original. It would be interesting to see what this combo could do with other Dylan compositions. Overall, it is clear that Hitchcock is having fun creating music with Welch and Rawlings, and that joy comes through in the listening.


by Lee Templeton




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