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Editor's rating: 
 3.0
 
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 |  Written by Matt FInk  | 
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges Though the canon of great singer-songwriters is littered with examples of artists who don’t possess traditionally attractive voices, it’s possible there’s no element in songwriter’s craft that’s more important than voice. Like an actor’s face or an orator’s dramatic flourishes, a songwriter’s voice – whether commanding like Aretha Franklin or squeaky like Daniel Johnston – is the quickest identifier of his or her work, the purest and most expressive instrument, and the one that will shape much of your impression of the persona that artist has created. As such, to change that creative signature is daring, if not dangerous, something that becomes obvious the first time you hear Dylan’s nasally pinched croon on 1969’s Nashville Skyline or Neil Young’s vocoder-aided robo-voice on 1982’s Trans – two albums where the songwriter’s familiar vocal fingerprints were so obscured that listeners were left ...
Editor's rating: 
 3.0
 
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 |  Written by Matt FInk  | 
Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs The last time I interviewed Ben Gibbard, he seemed somewhat ashamed to admit that he was a bit stung by all the lukewarm reviews that greeted Death Cab for Cutie’s 2005 breakthrough, Plans. Of course, you’d expect as much for an artist who is obviously a sensitive soul, a man who finds romantic implications in every act, no matter how seemingly mundane. Not that such a backlash was in any way surprising, as the previously prototypical indie rock band was certain to receive such a backlash when they jumped to a major label and found themselves near the top of the Billboard Top 200. But Gibbard seemed so disarmingly hurt by it all; it was as if he never considered it could happen. For those who want to read between the lines, Narrow Stairs, Death Cab’s first album since the ...
Editor's rating: 
 2.8
 
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 |  Written by Matt FInk  | 
Atmosphere - When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold Continuing their never-ending quest to stay one step ahead of those who leak albums to the internet a few months before their release date, Rhymesayers (the label owned and operated by Atmosphere’s songwriting duo Slug and Ant) decided they wouldn’t send out promotional copies of their latest release at all. Instead of When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, critics were treated to a 16-track “greatest hits” compilation of tracks from the last 10 years, charting Atmosphere’s illustrious rise from Minnesota’s underground rap scene to a band whose most recent release landed at #5 on the Billboard Top 200. Given that their five full-length releases and four EPs have made them somewhat hard to keep up with, the set provided some much needed context, revealing artists who have been remarkably consistent in crafting the sort of soulful ...
Editor's rating: 
 3.3
 
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 |  Written by Jonathan Easley  | 
Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer The notion of subjective artificial intelligence doesn’t seem like a very threatening or near-term possibility, considering that subjective individuals continue to emphasize the rigid categorization of something as nebulous and diverse as music.  We’d do well to initiate ourselves with Robert Anton Wilson’s term “sombunall” (some but not all), as we’re not even to the point where our metaphysical machinery can claim to possess subjectivity.  Take a look at indie music’s currently embedded calibration device, the Scene Machine.  It requires only one unit of data input (a geographical location) to summate with lusty, borderline-sexual incantations about the cosmic importance of every band in a given area.  That’s right, our cognitive labeling machinery evolved sexuality before it evolved subjectivity – you don’t need the ability to reason when you’re in a blind rut.  This leaves machine-harvested bands that harbor post-debut album ...
Editor's rating: 
 4.3
 
Sunday, 01 June 2008 |  Written by Charles Andrews  | 
Heybale! - The Last Country Album Let’s say you’re a big fan of the-real-deal country music, and you decide to get busy on eBay and you score big. You find and successfully bid on a pair of black socks worn by Johnny Cash, a postcard mailed from El Paso by Marty Robbins, a rose sent from San Antonio by Bob Wills, a can of hair spray used by Tammy Wynette, an empty pill bottle with Hank Williams’ name on the label, an empty white lightnin’ bottle with no label but with George Jones’ fingerprints all over it, Buck Owens’ red-white-and-blue belt buckle, Dolly Parton’s bra, Patsy Cline’s plane ticket, a joint rolled by Merle Haggard, half a joint smoked in Muskogee OK by Willie Nelson, a shower curtain from Ernest Tubb’s bathroom and a book on public speaking from Mel Tillis’ library. Why, you’d have yourself ...
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