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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
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+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
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+ Camille - Le Fil
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+ 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
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+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
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Pernice Brothers
Discover A Lovelier You

Now always I wait for you to take this pale opaque and let some light through," sings Joe Pernice (in an airy voice over a thumping bass line) on "There Goes the Sun," the opening track from the Pernice Brothers' latest release, Discover a Lovelier You. Even from that briefest of quotes, you can get a pretty good sense of what a Pernice Brothers album is all about — the tension between hope and skepticism. Invoking as it does George Harrison's hopeful "Here Comes the Sun," Pernice's song turns the table on that optimism: "Kick this life from me till one better comes. Till one better comes, there goes the sun." There is hope here, but it is a measured hope, the hope held by one cautious of any expression of unbridled optimism. Such is Joe Pernice's musical world, and Discover a Lovelier You is a strong statement of this worldview.

It would be a mistake to call the band's fifth album a "perfect summer record," as, no doubt, some already have. Even though the music here is pure pop heaven — light, jaunty, shimmering guitars, dreamy harmonies, plenty of "ooh oohs" and "la las," and melodies that bore straight into your brain — the lyrics balance this mood with a darker, deeper feel. Pernice's lyrics represent the skepticism mentioned above, while the lyrics bring that qualified sense of hope. The conflict between these two opposing forces give the songs assembled here a weight that, on first listen, seems nearly weightless. On "Saddest Quo," Pernice sings of trying to maintain faith in a world that is determined to revel in the negative: "All the acolytes are choking, but my faith in life's unbroken. Want to leave this room better than I found it." The chorus, one of the more infectious of the album, drives the point home: "There's a train wreck picking up survivors from a plane crash on the TV live. It's a sad status quotient waiting for the sky to fall." Fear permeates our lives these days, Pernice suggests in "Say Goodnight to the Lady," invoking as he does life in the era of constant terror alerts: "Felt ghost-white too sick to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Was a color-coded era, now I guess it always is." Even in the gloomiest of moods, however, Pernice struggles to find some intimation of hope: "In the green East River where no water lilies grow, prayed for hope to spring eternal even if the trickle's slow."

Pernice's ability to combine the tenuous hope of the music with the skepticism and darkness of his lyrics, delicately balancing the two, is remarkable, and the album succeeds in creating a dreamy mood that is both soothing and slightly unsettling. And yet this mood is relentless, and, ultimately, all the songs begin to sound the same. It's an interesting paradox — the album's strength is, at the same time, its weakness. Of course, this type of conflict seems to be exactly what Pernice is after.

by Lee Templeton

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