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neumu
Sunday, November 23, 2014 
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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
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The Constantines
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Tournament Of Hearts
Sub Pop
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The days of the big, anthemic guitar bands are over; otherwise The Constantines would surely be following along in U2's decades-ago footsteps, converting arena after arena to the next biggest band in the world. Their third full-length is their best ever, a passionate yet cohesive vault into outsized rock sound. It is much more of a whole than predecessor Shine a Light, gathering weight and heft as it proceeds to the mammoth "You Are a Conductor."

Much has been made of The Constantines' intrinsic polarity — their angular instrumental sound jostles smooth white-soul vocals — but the two halves seem more united here than ever before. The power comes from Doug MacGrath's tumultuous tribal drumming — heavy on the toms and light on the cymbals, it is the primitive core of nearly every cut. Still, the reason you can hear it, track after track, is because of the rest of the band's restraint. There's judicious use of both sparseness and frenzy. For example, in "Draw Us Lines," percussion carves a bare-bones space for Bryan Webb's hoarse, dramatic vocals, but unexpected bursts of guitar and keyboard rupture through in multicolored ecstasy. Similarly, "Hot Line Operator" builds tension with minimal elements, the slap of off-beats, a seductive falsetto, a shimmering keyboard, threatening always to explode, but always pulling back. Not until "Lizaveta" do those thick, distorted guitars emerge, powering a slow rock dirge to triumph. "It's good... we desire disorder... with this desire... we our own destroyers..." sings Webb against the rock-steadiest of beats, that disorder contained but immanent as it is in all great rock songs.

"Working Full-Time" is another triumph, begun in a scream and pedal-altered haze of guitars and shimmering to life with pulsating guitar riffs. The subject matter is the dignity of the working man, an Orozco mural's worth of larger-than-life lunchpail heroes trudging through the day-to-day. It's not something that glamorous bands spend much time thinking about, but The Constantines bring fire to the discussion with their chant "We... won't... be... undersold." With "You Are a Conductor," we again hear a ritual drumbeat, slow tempo'd and magnificent, punctuated by ringing guitar notes and mystical observations about "jungles of doubt" and "battles to come." Even the guitar solos are slowed, heavy, weighted with meaning... the song is larger, more significant because of its measured pace.

The final song of Tournament of Hearts is the exception to everything — not a big song or a slow song or an anthemic song, it would sound fairly strange in a football stadium. Yet "Windy Road," just Webb's whispered voice, a few guitar chords and a reverberating keyboard, has its own tension and drama, evidence that The Constantines can be just as passionate in pianissimo as in triple forte.


by Jennifer Kelly




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