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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
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+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
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+ 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
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Laura Veirs
Year Of Meteors

Laura Viers has carved out her own space in the girl-with-guitar universe by creating her very own universe. She doesn't just put her thoughts and feelings to music, she wraps them in images of mermaids and white spider stars; instead of tears falling from her eyes, there are galaxies. But the songs don't float off into space; the strumming guitars and subtle electronic effects give the fantastic lyrics an earthy feel, rather than lifting them into the air.

A muted disc like Year of Meteors could get dull. Viers keeps listeners at a distance, delivering her tales in a voice that's sometimes closer to speaking than singing. But there are several moments where her voice fills with emotion and reaches for a melody.

She also manages to keep her disc lively with a mix of styles. She visits the twang of backwoods Americana, uses an organ and xylophone to give it swing, occasionally gives us some feedback, and, as a lot of singer/songwriters tend to do, she often circles back to folky guitar-strumming and making one-syllable words into three-syllable words. She sounds like a cross between Liz Phair (in her first incarnation) and Mary Timony. Her voice is a bit like Phair's, and her imagination is like Timony's. Both Viers and Timony take us into a dreamy world of fairytale creatures, mostly lovely but sometimes scary.

Floating and flying play a dominant role in Viers' tales. Nearly every song refers to water, and a lack of gravity. But the two standout tracks are the ones that take us into the depths of the earth. In "Spelunking," Viers asks what would happen if she took her lover into the caverns of her heart: "Would you light the lamp, dear? . And see fish without eyes/ Bats with their heads hanging down towards the ground. Would you still come around?" The guitar strumming is lilting and sweet. She goes on to say, "I believe in you/ In the honesty in your eyes/ Even when I'm sloshing in the muck of my demise/ A large part of me is tied to the lamplight in your eyes." These are the lyrics that stick with me now, the way something from L7 or Hole might have stuck with me a decade ago. I've sloshed in the muck of my demise once or twice. On a bad day, it's a comfort to think that I, too, can look beyond it to the lamplight in my someone's eyes.

"Galaxies" goes from outer space to the bottom of the sea. Viers' girly voice sings about galaxies as an electronic warbling adds a sci-fi feel to the music. There's a video for the song on Nonesuch's Laura Viers Web site that's worth checking out. The images are just as magical and playful as the lyrics. When Viers sings "When we dance/ Eels and sea grass [sigh] float on by/ I'm 10,000 leagues beneath the sea," we see her dancing with a deep-sea diver, hose coming out of his suit and a big metal fishbowl-like helmet on his head. They're in the living room of a house that — we can tell from the windows — is under the sea. And all around them are pretty little glass jars to catch the drops of water seeping in. Kisses that cause a floating sensation have been put to music before; the literal image of a couple dancing 10,000 leagues under the sea captures the magic and mystery of romance, but does so with a wink.

A melodic mix of low-fi guitar-strumming and snarling fuzz and feedback lead us to "Rialto." The effects lend menace to Viers' vivid description of sailors with their pressed pants and shiny shoes as strapping — but deranged from being too long at sea. They end up at the beach, watching a child "dripping castles on the sand," and buoys toss in the distance. They're trying to capture a glimpse of their own youths. Viers, it seems, hasn't lost sight of hers. She sings in each chorus, "I can still go there."

My daughter, who is still there, has taken a liking to this CD. She knows it as the one that has "mermaid" as the very first word. She listens to it as she drifts off to sleep at night. And as much as I liked her last favorite, the Cheetah Girls and their songs about independent girls, I like even better that she takes poetic images of "cool water (in surround sound)," "feather cloud formations" and mermaids shimmering in the waves off to her dreams with her.

by Lori Miller Barrett

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