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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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Fixit Kid
The Easy Way Out
Fight Me

It's odd that the second album from this Derby, UK-based trio sounds more like a debut than their first album did. Where last year's The Gracious Art of Breaking Limbs launched itself as a tight ball of energy, blazing its own path, here the band seems to be showing its influences more overtly, with a consequent blurring of focus away from the fierce, molten center so vividly on display last time.

The new album's sleeve is dressed up like some junior grade Queens of the Stone Age offshoot, and, unfortunately, in places it seems Fixit Kid's remit is now to emulate Josh Homme's eclectic take on all things Metal, which only serves to highlight the gap between the band's ambitions and its ability to realize them. The weediness of the production doesn't help either, with the drums in particular sounding hollow and insubstantial where they should be providing a positively seismic accompaniment.

On the plus side (and there are a fair number of positives to be extracted from this flawed collection), however wayward the band's direction gets, an ability to simply deliver the goods with maximum impact remains at the heart of things, through music that's made to be played very loud. The difference is in emphasis: Fixit Kid's debut was a fast and furious, raw, hardcore-derived blast; The Easy Way Out is still raw, but it's more obviously aligned to specific genres and sounds, from the Metal ennui and late-period Nirvanaisms of "Taking Liberties" and "Open Wide" to the staccato riffs on "Meat" and "Suit," which sound like they've been stolen from Iron Maiden, then remade as grotesque, lethal parodies. Actually, it's not been a big distance for this band to travel, from pummeling hardcore to Bizarro-Metal, but where they genuinely sound out on their own — on the brooding, brass-flavored mutant funk of "Baracus" and the lurching, menacing unpredictability of "Exrobot" — it sounds like their journey is far from over.

by Tom Ridge

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