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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
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+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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Beggars Banquet

There were lots of reasons to worry about the new Calla album. It was taking a long time, for one thing. There had been no word out of the Calla camp since the dark and ominous Televise, this writer's favorite album in 2003. A live show at SXSW seemed OK, but not as cinematically creepy as the band's best work. And, when any band as sexily low-end driven as this one announces a change in bass players, eyebrows are raised. Add to this the fact that drummer Wayne Magruder moved to Texas and participated only long-distance, and reasonable people might be concerned.

Yet with Collisions, the Brooklyn-based, Brit-gloom-referencing Calla have emerged from all this unscathed. Founding member Peter Gannon picks up the bass where Sean Donovan left it, lending menace and sinew to tracks like "This Better Go As Planned" and "Pulverized." The pulse of nearly subliminal bass underlines Aurelio Valle's secret-breathing vocals like the blood pounding in your ear when someone whispers in it.

This is not to say that Collisions is the same as Televise, only on a level with it, as if Calla's sound had been supercharged, booster-rockets of anthemic energy fired under its thoughtful gloom. In cuts like opener "It Dawned on Me," the sound is bigger, brighter, more triumphant, yet still vibrates with suppressed erotic energy. There's an unadulterated rock adrenaline in "Swagger," which does nothing to undercut its intelligent restraint.

Collisions peaks with the nuanced, gorgeous "So Far, So What," with its muted guitar chords and murmured vocal crescendos. "It's all coming to a head," sings Valle, as the band hurls into a distorted vortex of guitar feedback and triumphant climaxes. It's over though, almost as soon as it starts, heading back to coiled, minimal tension. If you think of the song's energy as a firehose, Calla have their collective thumb on the opening most of the time, building the intensity to nearly unbearable levels, then releasing, building and releasing.

Hints of the bands that inspired Calla's sound — Echo and the Bunnyman, Joy Division, The Cure and the Jesus & Mary Chain — can be discerned here and there, but not in any obvious way. Among contemporaries, Calla now stand alone, making dark, beautiful, intensely understated music that's as much landscape as narrative story. It's just gotten slightly bigger and more rock-oriented with Collisions.

by Jennifer Kelly

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