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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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+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
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+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
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+ 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
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+ 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
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44.1 kHz Archive

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Pretty Girls Make Graves
Élan Vital

Dear class: Who are Pretty Girls Make Graves? Discuss. No, like, really. Hate to get all first-year here, but the question does beg. And does beg more questions. Like: What does this rockband stand for? What does their discography amount to? And: Do they actually have any "like, any" true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool, name-on-their-pencil-case, every-lyric-pored-over, chosen-song-on-their-myspace-profile, soundtrack-to-my-life fans? Would anyone lay their heart on the line for this band? Lay down and die for this band? And, if not: Does that really matter? Is that the only validation we have for the rock bands?

See, the reason Pretty Girls Make Graves are hard to define, hard to love, and hard to care about is that they are a rock band as committee: five voices, all with opinions. The members confessedly lack any sort of musical taste in common, but still, as band, they seek to find common ground. As they've struggled to do so, PGMG have cooked up a confusing discography. It, of course, only really begs more questions, but, basically, it reads, rote: made a rough-as-guts lo-fi punk-rock record for Steve Aoki's cool-chasing Dim Mak; made a Rainer-Maria-esque set of dynamic, screamy boy/girl emo for punk grandaddies Lookout!; made a dressed-up/drossed-out new-wave disappointment for Matador. And, now, they're back with their latest installment of look-how-we-keep-changing: Élan Vital, an album issued only after they scrapped all the original sessions for it.

After the stylized hollowness of The New Romance, the record marks a major improvement, there being a definite sense of urgency in "Selling the Wind," there being a hit single in the union anthem "Parade," there being a currency of unto-themselves experimentalism in both major arrangements and incident details. But, still, it's hard to love as a whole. Because, basically, it rarely feels whole. It is, at one time or another, twee reggae, hipster rock-ism, synth-pop balladry, post-Interpol gothickry. It's an inconsistency that's both noble and annoying. And you get the feeling that Pretty Girls Make Graves — whoever they are, and whatever that means — wouldn't have it any other way.

by Anthony Carew

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