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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

44.1 kHz Archive

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The Jim Yoshi Pile-Up
Picks Us Apart
Absolutely Kosher

Digging the Jim Yoshi Pile-Up because they remind me a little of American Music Club probably isn't the best reason for liking a band. All the same, there it is. Singer/guitarist Paul Gonzenba has some Mark Eitzel in his voice, and the rest of the band — drummer Ryan Craven, guitarist Noah Blumberg and bassist Frankie Koeller — often mix melody and strange, intense sonics the way AMC did on what may be my favorite AMC album, Mercury.

This Oakland, California band formed in 1997, released a debut album, It's Winter Here, in 2001, and followed it with Homemade Drugs in 2002. I haven't heard the group's earlier albums, but Picks Us Apart is a mature, nuanced work that veers from noisy rock (some of "Mind of God," "Revulsion") to gentle ballads ("Hall Clock," "Heart My Home"). The songwriting is strong, and much attention has been paid to the arrangements and production. Yet nothing here sounds forced. Picks Us Apart is one of those albums you play again and again, from start to finish.

That said, the standout here is "Jailhouse Rock" (a new song, not the Elvis oldie), a mesmerizing indie rocker with subtle hooks throughout (pay attention to the way the bass and drums stop and start, holding back just long enough to make that hesitation itself become a hook). The couple of repeated notes that one of the guitars plays for an intro, set against the bass and drums, hit the "ecstasy" part of my brain the way parts of Big Star and Spoon songs do. You just have to hear the way Gonzenba sings "And I, I was the entertainer, I was the topic of conversation…." Words never do justice to music, and that's no cop-out — just the truth. Later in the song, the prison guards sing to the song's narrator: "The truth sounds like a lie and you won't know when you die that you've been cheated."

Both Gonzenba and Blumberg are smart guitarists who understand that, more often than not, less is more. The notes they play are the right ones, and their use of repetition creates the hypnotic quality that I referred to in connection with "Jailhouse Rock."

Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that it's still possible for a four-piece band — two guitars, bass and drums — to make music that doesn't sound like a tired retread of the past. The Jim Yoshi Pile-Up may bring to mind the American Music Club, but only as a reference point, a way into their sound. And once you're in, you'll end up liking Picks Us Apart simply because it's good.

by Michael Goldberg

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