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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
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+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
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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
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
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The Runners Four (Review #2)
Kill Rock Stars

Smart people make connections between neurons that regular folk don't. Firing off lines like Spiderman shoots web, a smart person's brain is a more complex network of connections. Brains that function at a higher level get more neurons to talk to each other, meaning more neurons understand each other, meaning, subsequently, more neurons make you smarter than the next guy. All these goings-ons can be confusing to the average Joe, who will quickly become confused and discouraged by them as mainstream music listeners often are by Deerhoof — a band made up of people who are no doubt too smart for their own good, and who make the most fascinating, thinking-person's music as a result.

It'd be easy to dismiss their brilliance as chaos. But Deerhoof's defiant, frame-less songs don't come together by mistake; they're carefully and meticulously composed, making them that much more fulfilling to dissect. That is, if they'll let you.

It's not what the instruments do alone — the riff can be simple, the beat can be plain — it's what they do together. Classical compositions are usually simple in pieces but powerful in procession; the best don't run into the walls of structure or habit. This is what Deerhoof do. And with each successive album, they just keep doing it better.

Deerhoof go places and always take you with them. Sometimes they start slow and minimal, as if they're dragging their feet, but before long you're caught in a whirlwind, awestruck by the fluttering sounds coming at you from every direction. The guitar riff starts simple, and the next thing you know you're somewhere else. Once, the riff was one, two notes maybe; then it morphed into a scattered string of tantalizing notes without you even noticing. The guitar transported you to new sonic territory where jazz drums are breaking down and high-pitched coos are repeating something to you again and again. Sometimes you wonder if Satomi Matsuzaki's singing in a foreign language. Maybe it's her Asian accent, her choppy flow or her so-innocent-it-hurts delivery, it's hard to say, but her singing style helps define Deerhoof as the idiosyncratic entity they are. Still, she couldn't do it without her mates, drummer/keyboardist Greg Saunier and guitarists John Dieterich and Chris Cohen. And having two guitar players, something they didn't have until they brought Cohen on board for 2003's Apple O', gives the listener that much more to revel in.

On their new album, The Runners Four, Deerhoof don't abandon the stupid-to-difficult approach they first dropped a patent on when they formed a decade ago. They improve on it — significantly. Their chaotic brilliance is evident as ever, but this time paired with more traditional rock 'n' roll guitar-playing, giving you an anchor to hold onto. Deerhoof have always featured hooks in their songs, but, here, they pack more of a punch — you could stomp around to The Runners Four more than any of their previous seven albums. Raw, up close and a bit echo-y, the recording itself also added a new hard-hitting dimension to their sound. But, lovers of the dissonance and drone, don't fret — there's still plenty of that to get lost in.

"Twin Killers" is potentially the catchiest of the album's 20 tracks. With a dirty '70s-style riff that thrusts in and out as if to menace you, and another guitar riff spiraling with threatening might, the song features hollow, slapping beats and a chorus that sounds like Matsuzaki awkwardly covering classic rock. Driven by a handful of starts and stops (as many of Deerhoof's songs are), "Vivid Cheek Love Song" swings like an old jangly Velvet Underground cut and finds Matsuzaki at her cutest, while "Odyssey" is a dreamy stripped-down song of intimate, sluggish coos and hypnotic guitar-playing. "Wrong Time Capsule" is another rock cut, this time with a bluesy swagger in the vein of the Rolling Stones, while "Lemon & Little Lemon" has delicate, whistling keyboard set against angelic speak-singing and jazzy hits to the cymbals and hi-hat. Damaged, free-jazz playing and displaced keyboards give the all-instrumental "News From a Bird" the album's most experimental, arrhythmic feel; closer "Rrrrrrright" is a dark and gritty coming-to-get-you track, letting wild guitars loose to terrorize wherever and whomever they please. 'Cause, with Deerhoof, there are no rules. Setting rules and restriction is like taking the easy way out — it's the lack of them that can make things the most complex, and, with The Runners Four, the most exciting.

by Jenny Tatone

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