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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
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive

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The Places
Songs For Creeps
High Plains Sigh

Sam Reviews the Criminally Underknown, Part I

Ed: In this series of reviews, Sam will cover bands he thinks are deserving of wider praise and recognition, but who currently wallow in the dregs of neutral to no publicity. He is adamant about his selections. You probably should heed his words. I can't guarantee your continued peace of mind if you don't.

If Emmylou Harris had written OK Computer, it might sound like this. (There… I just did something I promised I would never do by referencing other bands in a review I'm writing about a completely different band. But now that I've gone and done that, I might as well take the analogy to its final conclusion.) Like Radiohead's magnum opus, Amy Annelle's latest album is awash with swirling eddies of atmospheric paranoia, self-derision, doubt and longing. Those feelings are wrapped in a warble that, like Harris', sounds neither here nor there — as if the singing is an exorcism of demons we'll never know or comprehend. But with Songs for Creeps, we at least catch glimpses of them.

You see, the human mind is a strange thing. When left to its own, its strangeness is amplified. Connections, fears and dependencies are called forth from dormancy. Songs for Creeps is an exercise in this. It is an album for the solitary, rife with society's hidden undercurrents and bristling with melodies for the discarded, abused, and abusers. Lines like "…speed! Enough blessed speed to keep us up for weeks!" and "There was cocaine and drinks aplenty…" are scattered throughout the proceedings like vignettes in a heroin dream — a modern-day Symphonie Fantastique, if you will.

Songs for Creeps makes prevalent use of minor modes, heightening the sense of delirium. Addiction is a central theme: addiction to drugs, troubled love, and despondency. In a self-aware moment, Annelle sings "the lines composed in sleep are the best that come to be. But fade, like a wave, they do, in the morning." In this way she expresses the artists' frustration of never being able to capture exactly what they intend. The hand inevitably muddles what the creative mind dictates.

Again and again, she references this notion. "I'm in the spotlight, can't do nothing right, I wear all my fears here on the outside." By the end, faced with persistent doubts and weakened will, her persona turns back to the usual crutches — "I'm a-gone get high."

In "Gold to Green" the mood shifts to a surprisingly uplifting melancholy (no doubt due to that most melancholic of chord voicings, the major 7). It's a winsome rumination on autumn, imploring lost (or former) lovers to linger. But inevitably, the exuberance of spring and summer give way to the death and decay of fall and winter. In fact, death seems to be another preoccupation with these songs. "Slit me up from gut to throat, and call it a victory," she sings in "Mercy Me." Or in "The Lion's Share," she takes the idea of emotional evisceration to its logical conclusion. "Tore you open with one claw/ Your blood came out in waves 'til it was drained/ Came and came 'til you were drained."

But even junkies can enter rehab, and like that promise of a better future, it all turns around by album's end. A mysterious love appears to root out all that was poisoning her heart. In this way, she has hope for the future. "He knows of my nameless ache, and how it grew to rule me, and how it all fell on deaf and dumb ears... he said 'darling, you are here for a reason. Your only hope now is love. And if you let it, it will fill the cracks and spring the traps that you set in circles 'round your worn-out broken heart... you will be set free when you know: you've been had by savage masters, jealousy and anger.'"

And so, despite a dark journey, there are brighter days peeking over the horizon — a lesson we could all stand to learn from time to time, I think.

by Sam Ernst

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