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neumu
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 
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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
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+ 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
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artist
Alasdair Roberts
recording
No Earthly Man
Drag City
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As the seasons turn over, and the years run like rabbits, the changing days find changing pop-cultural ways. And, of recent, the attention paid to the humans making any sort of folkie music has altered radically. When Alasdair Roberts cut his first solo record — a set of traditional folk songs called The Crook of My Arm — in 2001, not many noticed; the disc was lost in the shadows of the third album cut by Roberts' main band, Appendix Out, that very same year. It dared to find the lonesome Roberts singing in a thick Scots accent, and hardly gained any hipster points by openly citing the influence of folk-revival heroes like Anne Briggs, Shirley Collins, Nic Jones, Dick Gaughan, and Barry Dransfield. Roberts showed this was where his heart truly lay, though, by letting Appendix Out die a natural death thereafter (letting that combo's Tom Crossley turning back towards his International Airport outfit), and by embracing his folk-revival revival wholeheartedly. His second solo outing, 2003's Farewell Sorrow, introduced Roberts as the modern-day heir to that movement, his collection of inspired originals placing him as a unique contemporary figure, someone whose earnest evocation of acoustic-music/Anglo-Celtic traditionalism seemed most un-postmodern; he shared the same purity of spirit as those early-music enthusiasts of the 1960s. Two years later, however, the word "folk" is suddenly loaded, and is utterly fatal when preceded by the pseudo-word "nu," with anyone owning a Sufjan Stevens record, apparently, into some sort of genrefied "folk movement." It's unlikely the Banhart crowd will fall for No Earthly Man, the latest longplayer in Roberts' increasingly impressive discography. Produced/played on by willing collaborateur Will Oldham (and also featuring former Appendix Out homies Crossley and Gareth Eggie, plus indie-pop pinup Isobel Campbell), it's a sombre, sorrowful collection of traditional death hymns: poisoning ballads, infanticide ballads, fratricide ballads, shipwreck ballads. Walking at a funereal gait, the gear works to slow its folk songs to a snail's pace, the deathly-slow saunter the better with which to cultivate a ghostly atmosphere. Roberts' robust croon is matched with haunted harmonies wailed by Campbell and the Bonnie Prince; Campbell's droning cello and the nimble-fingered fiddling of John McCusker play forlorn figures whose friction-on-strings/bowed vibrato seems like so much (gentle) weeping. From a strictly traditionalist sense, the disc resembles the post-rockification of such source material; but, compared to the modern-day minstrels that pass for new-millennial folksmen, Roberts seems like he hails from an entirely different era.


by Anthony Carew




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