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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
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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TV On The Radio
Return To Cookie Mountain

The received wisdom regarding the music of TV on the Radio is that it's somehow unclassifiable and just a tad "difficult" due to its very unclassifiability — I even read a suggestion that it was the sort of music to admire rather than actually like.

This is just so much horseshit, and it doesn't take much to refute it — even a cursory listen to the band's new one, Return to Cookie Mountain, would suffice. In fact, the new album has generally received glowing notices so far, but often with the caveat that it is still hard to pin down (or pigeonhole).

This preconception may partly arise from the label, 4AD, which is still, to some extent, a byword for the more esoteric side of indie rock. Being on 4AD seems to mean that any discussion of TV on the Radio's "blackness" is sidestepped. But TV on the Radio's music seems, to me, to be full of soul/funk/doo-wop musical references, placing it in a tradition of maverick black sounds reaching back to Sly &The Family Stone, Parliament/Funkadelic and, more recently, OutKast.

TVOR incorporate stiffer, glam-orientated percussion and shrill swathes of noise-guitar into their mutant soul grooves, shifting the emphasis away from low-end swing to trebly dissonance. And it's fitting that one David Bowie contributes his backing vocals to the track "Province," since much of this album reads like a belated response to the stiff white funk and glossy soul of Station to Station and Young Americans.

The subtext here is organic vs. mechanic, modernist grooves mixing it up with the earthy, expressive earthy sway of harmonizing voices. And while there's room for the thundering alt-rock stampede of "Wolf Like Me" and "Blues From Down Here," there is also the sparsely arranged doo-wop of "AMethod," a jazzy clarinet interlude during "Tonight" and the skitterish funk of the gloriously messy "Playhouses."

Whichever way you look at it, as avant-pop or cubist soul, Return to Cookie Mountain remains an intoxicating, intriguing but accessible album.

by Tom Ridge

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