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Wednesday, November 22, 2017 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
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+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
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+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
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+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
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+ 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
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+ 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
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+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
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+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
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+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
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+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
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+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
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+ 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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Deerhoof
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The Runners Four (Review #1)
Kill Rock Stars
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Deerhoof's eighth full-length ought to be chaotic. Its parts are disparate — Satomi Matsuzaki's tiny bird-like voice, the very muscular, distorted guitars of Chris Cooper and John Dieterich, and the complicated tonal percussion Greg Saunier uses to underline and comment on off-kilter melodies — and they shouldn't come together smoothly, or indeed at all. Still, they do, with fractured dreamworld logic. It's like a parallel universe where sugary girl-groups coexist with barbed-wire post-punk rhythm sections, and juddering eighth-note guitars blast across post-rock landscapes like laser guns and ricochet off weird-shaped rocks and plant materials.

Like Milkman, this latest album is very cleanly produced, letting each song's distinct elements breathe and have impact. Sometimes, as on opening "Chatterboxes," the band moves in unison, with nervous guitar chords echoing Matsuzaki's fragile melodies. At others, opposing sounds seem to collide, setting off sparks and dissonances, yet remaining firmly anchored in pop context. "O'Malley, Former Underdog" is like this, putting a dizzying array of ideas in play, yet sounding like a deconstructed, prism-fractured Apples in Stereo song.

When Satomi is singing — that is, most of the time — Deerhoof create a wonderful tension between loud and soft, high and low. Her singing works in piccolo range, pure tone without audible emotion, breath or vibrato. Perhaps because it's so high, her very soft voice floats above abrasive, rock-oriented instruments ("Twin Killers") or waits for breaks in the momentum to make itself heard ("Vivid Cheek Love Song"). Her duel with abstract percussive lines and fast-picked guitars in "Spirit Ditties of No Tone" is perhaps the most exciting example of divergent, fast-moving parts that somehow mesh into a single machine, though the free-jazz leaning "Running Thoughts" has the same combination of challenge and reward. It sounds like an entirely different band when the men in the group take over singing, less frantic and contradictory, more thoughtful and consciously beautiful. "Odyssey," with its slow-strummed guitar and bare vocals, is a tranquil island in this challenging album, and "Bone-Dry," later on, glows with mysterious loveliness.

The Runners Four is much longer than previous Deerhoof albums, with 20 songs and nearly an hour of material, but unlike many extended CDs, there's no point where you listen and say, "OK, they're running out of ideas." In fact, the album's final cut, "Rrrrrrright," is an album highlight. Here the bass and drums move together in a chugging, staccato juggernaut, while swooping classic-rock guitar lines slash in and out of the mix. Satomi's impossibly delicate voice bobs and weaves over the whole thing, insouciantly "nah-nah-nah-nah-ni"-ing over a roiling thundercloud of rock 'n' roll distortion. In a way, the song is a metaphor for the entire album, its structure and melody unsettling and unexpected, yet transmuted into certainty with sheer energy, intelligence and imagination.


by Jennifer Kelly




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