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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
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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
+ 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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Garden Ruin (Review #1)

Calexico's warm, delicate music for warm, delicate days makes their new album, Garden Ruin, a wonderful summer spin. I can just picture people everywhere lying on chaise lounges, swinging gently in hammocks, sitting knees-to-chest in bay windows, or perched on fire escapes, bare legs dangling, swaying to the folk-rock textures of Garden Ruin.

These are the sounds certain to accompany the smells of barbecue grills, wilting spring flowers and thick summer heat. These are the sounds meant for days of doing nothing. Singer/guitarist Joey Burns' voice is a bit hazy and hushed, his singing sounding washed out from the distance so as not to interrupt your time-wasting. The guitars, usually acoustic, feel a little rock, a little folk, a little country-Western, a little spaghetti, and all delicate, all unobtrusive, all gorgeous. The beats are gentle, jazzy and lazy. The structures involve more snapping pop and emotion, less noodling and resonation that you might recall from previous recordings. And the songs are happy and sad, dark and joyful, a pleasant mix of dispositions, stories and, at times, political rants.

But regardless of which song you're listening to, which emotion engages you or which story is unfolding, you're going to fall in love with Garden Ruin this summer, wherever you are.

Listening to Garden Ruin, you can feel the influence of recent Calexico collaborations, whether it's the soft strumming and wispy tunes of Iron & Wine (Calexico and Sam Beam together released the great EP In the Reins last year), the bittersweet melodies of Wilco (with whom Calexico recently toured) or the steamy, sultry feel of Neko Case and Nancy Sinatra (on whose newest songs Calexico recently made guest appearances).

The album opens with the carefully strummed "Cruel," whose achy melodies and chilly rush of instrumentation (trumpet, pedal steel, tambourine, organ, glockenspiel) feels like reliving a particularly emotional event, or a moving scene from a good film. Snapping, uptempo "Bisbee Blue," with an irresistible hook, banjo and occasional cello, feels fit for a nice, lighthearted time on the back porch. "Letter to Bowie Knife," the record's loudest, fullest, most rock 'n' roll track, keeps the electric guitar up front and features playful '60s-type back-up vocals, while "Roka (Danza de la Muerte)" features beautiful vocal contributions (in Spanish) from the famed Amparo Sanchez; this passionate song is colored by horn arrangements, trumpet, piano and shakers. "Cup your hands to her perched heart, perched and broken heart," Burns half sings, half whispers on "Roka." "No water here to drink from way downstream/ One goes where the water flows and water's running dry/ So don't give up no don't cry, don't cry."

Guided by the steely picking of the banjo, "Nom de Plume" is an odd, sluggish song, spoke-sung in French with low-pitched vocals that menace and haunt; it would have fit well with other street musicians playing on the side of a cobblestone street in Paris in the early 1900s. The slowly building, later explosive closer, "All Systems Red," is a resentful, heart-wrenching song about the state of the world today: "When you think it couldn't get much worse/ The numbers rise on the death toll/ And the chimes of freedom flash and fade/ Only heard from far, far away."

But it's up to you whether to be consumed by Calexico's hard-hitting emotion or blanketed in their masterful textures. Listen to Garden Ruin casually while picking weeds or skewering shish kabobs. Or listen to it intently with a pair of headphones and a pillow. Either way, you'll love having it around this summer.

by Jenny Tatone

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