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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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Set Yourself On Fire
Arts & Crafts

Before there was the analog set, there was the anorak army. Somewhere between that twain came the cardigan crowd, and, before Set Yourself on Fire, Stars'd played only to some sort of variation on that triumvirate, the twee indie-kids, basically, being the ones who were charmed by a band covering "This Charming Man" in a sentimental electro-pop style. Yet, with this, their third longplayer, Stars' refrain no longer remains the same; they preach to a whole different congregation now, what with the ever-escalating hipness that comes with coming from the new zero kanada (and having tangled-up associations with Toronto's Arts & Crafts crew, in particular) meaning that, just as they've gotten serious themselves, serious dudes into serious music can now listen to Stars with open ears, and greet them with open arms. See, the way their song's changed herein is that Stars are no longer content with cobbling together those cutesy indie influences, stitching the Smiths to Saint Etienne and getting their frolicking frontman, Torquil Campbell, to strike the right charming-man lyrical poses out front. The "soft revolution" that Campbell once trumpeted has been forsaken (even though, herein, such a statement is intentionally translated to a tune titled "Soft Revolution" — not so much about making wussy music now, but about providing diametrical counterculture resistance to All-American moneymaking belligerence). The crew draws its influence, instead, from the orchestral-rock epics recently realized by those bands with which they share members, Broken Social Scene and The Dears. With plenty of sweeping strings and Evan Cranley — BSS bassist by day — switching his Stars duties from four strings to six, there's squalling guitar sprawling with fire-starting friction over a set of songs that suspiciously rock, as epic and passionate as those early Stars numbers, back in their Manhattanite days as the Campbell/Chris Seligman duo, were once sweet and droll. The grandness of such is matched by lyrical anger, the words on the works herein spiraling out from charting temporal relationships, to recalling bitter arguments from within the band to the death of relationships within the band, to the death of social/political justice in this day and age. The rage they feel at the latter leads to Torquil (on the ode-to-GWB "He Lied About Death") slinging abuse at the commander-in-chief in so many slightly-tasteless words ("I hope your drunken daughters are gay!"), which is a long way from "All I could say was: 'Are you coming home soon?'," for sure.

by Anthony Carew

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