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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
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

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...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
Worlds Apart

Amid the current cultural turmoil, the politically conscious, post-9/11 album is becoming something of a fixture, sometimes coming from unexpected quarters (Green Day's American Idiot, for instance). AYWKUBTTOD's fourth album approaches the American political zeitgeist from a different perspective, and in the process reveals itself to be both perplexing and intriguing. It also marks a further evolution in the band's sound, one that carries with it the risk of alienating an existing fan base even as it's likely to ensnare new listeners.

At their inception, AYWKUBTTOD provided a barely stable mix of avant-rock delirium underpinned by Who-style dynamics. By the time of their last release, Source Tags And Codes (the group's first for a major), this had been streamlined into a more compact, listener-friendly form without dulling its essential edge. Worlds Apart, however, stretches their music into unexpected shapes.

The ominous strings and choral bombast of "Overture," cut short by a female voice announcing the band, is a suitable attention-grabber, providing a melodramatic setting for the explosive volleys of "Will You Smile Again For Me." But just as the circuitous guitar riffs and staccato rhythm bring on a sense of familiarity, the noise and turmoil suddenly fade, leaving a voice crooning to a trumpet accompaniment: "Remember all the bad dreams are not far from reality." And again the song shifts gear, this time to a kind of menacing glam-rock, chain-gang stomp as the lyrics ask rhetorically "just how long it takes for you to understand/ Where the feelings stopped and the writing began." There's a wry bitterness running through it, a self-accusatory rage that explodes into cynicism on the title track, where, against the music's drunken sway and hollow, beer-hall bravado, a voice sneers "How they laugh as we shovel the ashes/ Of the Twin Towers/ But in death we will pay back the debt/ Of this candy store of ours." Strong stuff, undoubtedly, but also uncertain in its intent. The band appears to be looking inward, asking what part it has left to play in the wake of massive, politically charged events. So while "Classic Art Showcase" rages against armchair complacency and correspondingly tests its audience with a succession of contrasting stylistic shifts, "Summer 91" somberly evokes a kind of resignation that overshadows its lyrical positivity: "And though it makes no sense/ To know there are no accidents/ Have no fear any more." If there are echoes of The Who in the band's instrumental charge, these lyrics similarly evoke the angry, conflicted intellect of Pete Townshend.

The message is perhaps both confused and confusing, contradictory, but also honest — there are no easy solutions posited, just an ongoing sense of unease and doubt as to what a "correct" artistic response should be. In contrast, the music sounds massively confident and impressively eclectic. Combining brute force with melody, Worlds Apart is a stunning showcase for AYWKUBTTOD's mature sound, full of unexpected subtleties, musical wild-cards and detours. If the music is no longer as untethered as before, it compensates by being more dynamically honed, and at its heart it still throbs with a dark kind of passion. With its synthesis of Anglophile rock influences, angular post-punk guitar sprawl and prog melodrama, Worlds Apart stands as an undiluted personal statement expressed in a maximalist language that's pure rock 'n' roll.

by Tom Ridge

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