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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
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
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M Ward

Strange title: makes you wonder what he means. Though the words to M Ward's cover of Daniel Johnston's "To Go Home" may get to the bone of it: "God it's great to be alive/ It takes the skin right off my hide/ To think I'll have to give it all up someday."

Fifth album in, Ward advances on oft-made comparisons to Nick Drake and Tom Waits with his own sleepy-voiced blend of upbeat melancholy and gravelly dreaminess. It's a paper-against-comb tone that seduces, Beth Orton and Norah Jones lately making use of it for their recordings, Neko Case joining him here. Ward plays an acoustic as if it were flashing water, strikes Dylan '63 poses in concert, comes on with a cap over his eyes and a sly grin, playing wintery piano with a ragtime fumble when the mood takes him. His songs are profoundly embedded in American cultural history: the blues, the birth of the radio and the jukebox, the popular love song, wrapped in a peculiar ability to sound like a 1920s crooner, a 1940s folkie and a 21st century ambient explorer all at once. His time-out-of mind brilliance also has a strong literary dimension, as such acknowledged Post-War influences as Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five suggest.

Post-War is already attracting attention as Ward's first full "band" album — hell, even as his party record. There's more body here, more barroom spill and rollick. There's also a feeling Ward is pushing at the fabric of his music, trying to expand and progress. But the same cinematic mist hovers, the same old, old intimacy fans know well, along with the cumulative significance of his records, a run of documents that now point to him as a major artist. It may sound weird to say this, but Ward's the finest ghost in modern music today, and for that we should be thankful. Which means this party's haunted, yet somehow reassuring: a wake, I guess, for those dead coming home, whatever shape they're in.

by Mark Mordue

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