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Monthly Archive for November, 2012

“Regina Spektor’s sixth outing, the predictably unpredictable What We Saw from the Cheap Seats, feels a little like a Wes Anderson movie. By now, you’re either on board with the Russian-American’s unique blend of East Village anti-folk and immaculately detailed thespian indie pop, or you’ve swapped her wares for the more accessible quirkiness of Fun. [...]

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The Wallflowers: Glad All Over

“As the record rolls on, the Wallflowers dabble with a number of different sounds. …The Wallflowers don’t abandon their identity as rock & roll classicists, they just now feel the freedom to mess around, and they’ve come up with one of their loosest, liveliest records that not-so-coincidentally is one of their best.” –All Music Guide [...]

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Kathy Mattea: Calling Me Home

“When Kathy Mattea made a hard roots turn on 2008′s Coal, a heartfelt examination in classic mining songs of the hard, often dangerous life of coal miners, it sounded like she’d been singing them all her life. On Calling Me Home, Mattea delivers a second album of material that has its origins in coal country [...]

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“The album finds that magical middle ground between sugary pop and heavy rock that Weezer once dominated in the days of the Blue Album. The brothers Orrall have tightened up their sound into something thicker and more cohesive while stepping further away from the looser, more psychedelic sound of Heavy Days, and in the process [...]

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“Two years after The Reason Why, Little Big Town returned in 2012 with Tornado, their fifth album and, justifiably, perhaps their poppiest yet. …Little Big Town open up their sound, once again emphasizing harmonies and melodies. …Forget the limiting rubric of country-pop: this is one of the best mainstream pop albums of 2012.” –All Music [...]

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Cat Power: Sun

“Six years between albums would be a lifetime for many artists, but Cat Power’s Chan Marshall managed to pack a couple of lifetimes’ worth of experiences between The Greatest and Sun.  …Sun lives up to its name, but its album cover is more revealing: like the rainbow crossing Marshall’s face, these songs are the meeting [...]

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“[H]e has written sturdy, intelligent songs for over some 40 years now, and if it’s his biggest one, ‘American Pie,’ that gives him the title American Troubadour, well, the title still fits. …The CD set features several live tracks, including those of ‘American Pie’ and ‘Vincent,’… it does span McLean’s entire career and does a [...]

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“Rebounding from the breakup record of 2008′s Flavors of Entanglement, Alanis Morissette is in a sunny mood on Havoc and Bright Lights, her first album in four years. …Havoc and Bright Lights is as soothing as a Sunday afternoon nap or a warm bath: it’s music for when you know you’re right where you want [...]

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“Born to Sing: No Plan B is Van Morrison’s first studio offering in four years and his second for Blue Note. …Uncharacteristically, he recorded the set in his hometown of Belfast with a crack sextet that includes a three-piece horn section with an alto saxophone. …Born to Sing: No Plan B is more jazz-centric, but [...]

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Bloc Party: Four

“Four — an album title that reflects the years between the band’s albums, the number of its members, and its place in Bloc Party’s discography — shows there’s more life in their music than most would have predicted. …[T]hey sought new life in their music and their collaboration, and they found it. Four may not [...]

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No Doubt: Push and Shove

“Underneath it all, underneath all the glamour and stardom, No Doubt remain a group of SoCal kids enraptured by the ska revival and new wave. That’s their common language, so when they reunited for 2012′s Push and Shove, their first album in over ten years, they returned to this shared bond, using it as a [...]

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“It’s always been easy to overlook the romantic nature of the band that ran underneath the loud guitars and outfits, but it’s always been there and it proudly steps to the front on Researching. The more cynical listeners may call it a mellowing, but that discounts the passion, energy, and power the band invest in [...]

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Aimee Mann: Charmer

“Mann has brightened her palette considerably, surrounding herself with synthesizers and trebly guitars, keeping the hooks spiky and precise. …Her livelier numbers, of which there are quite a few, aren’t exactly frivolous, but they have a pulse and plenty of color which, combined with album’s concise running time…give Charmer the feel of an immediate, engaging [...]

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Japandroids: Celebration Rock

“Record number two from the Vancouver duo is an inspired, exhilarating spectacle that makes good on its gang vocals, feel-good (but not cheesy) lyrics, pleasantly muddy production, and galloping sense of self-confidence. …Celebration Rock is the bouncing baby boy of keep-your-head-up punk bands like Latterman and Operation Ivy. … [C]elebration in its purest, friendliest form, [...]

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