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   Wednesday, December 31, 2008  
Music for pleasure...

Ten for 2008, pop bliss ahoy! Not ranked but if there's a common thread its good editing - lots of sub-40min running times with artists boiling things right down to just the good stuff. Filler-free, just how we likes it...

Kensington Prairie / Captured in still life
Maybe its the time of year which makes this billowy, pillowy debut collection from Rebecca Rowan's latest band seem so perfect, like footsteps in the snow. And if you like this...
[kensington prairie]

The Weepies / Hideaway'll do backflips over this. Elevating mere loveliness with an injection of superior songcraft and hand-in-glove boy-girl harmonies, Deb & Steve continue their blindside ascendency
[the weepies]

Unwed Sailor / Little wars
Quite appallingly, circumstances forced reallyrather to miss two chances to catch Johnathan Ford & co. on their recent European jaunt. Hopefully they were decently supported; Little wars revisits the wordless songs glory of first album The faithful anchor. Top tunes awash with sparkle and drive...
[unwed sailor]

Haley Bonar / Big star
Go Hales! If this blog had imposed a ranking order how close would this have gone? Close, dammed close even; top three for sure. Admittedly, an element of this regard is born out of relief. After the last album she could have gone the whole hog with the gloomy fragility thing which seems to be her default wiring. BUT, brilliantly, she didn't. The shutters are gradually opening on her brand of indie-country-pop and, melodically if not lyrically, the sun's a comin' in...
[haley bonar]

She & Him / Vol. 1
...tho' to nowhere near the dazzling extent as on Zooey Deschanel's debut project in harness with Matt Ward. Glowing with the catchy sentimentality of the best of AM radio gold, its like Linda Ronstadt joined the Beach Boys, or the Mamas & the Papas if they'd made it into the '70s and found their own Buckingham & Nicks in Richard and Karen Carpenter. Fabulous freshly-minted familiarity...
[she & him]

Raphael Saadiq / The way I see it
...just like this one. In which ex-Tony Toni Tone pop-soul classicist pays his respects to his forebears with a brilliantly executed set of originals. 'What's the point?' some cry. Who cares, says reallyrather, this one hasn't strayed from the 'recently played' pile since it came in. Spoiled only by a Jay-Z guest spot, exposing just how little he brings to the party...
[raphael saadiq]

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin / Pershing
Pete & the Pirates / Little death
Indie-guitar-pop-lite, hook-heavy and eager-to-please, that's Missouri's SSLYBY. To some, the very definition of what's wrong with this genre. reallyrather, however, applauds their twisty melodics, fleet-footed production and confident brevity, all of which also to applies to P&tPs, Boris's direct Brit counterparts (heck, one Pirate has an actual cousin in SSLYBY!). Similarly anonymous pale white boys in tee-shirts with possibly more guitars than friends, the Pirates advertise their origins in packing a deal more shouty wallop. Stiff with jangly gems...
[sslyby][pete & the pirates]

Jenny Lewis / Acid tongue
Brilliant title, terrific music. Goodbye Silver Lake, hello...some dusty, desert-bound Cali highway. Soulful frazzled country rock oozing with the kind of quality we've almost begun to take for granted...
[jenny lewis]

Mascott / Art project
A loveable thing, basically. Barely 25 mins long but rr has found that this is rarely a demerit if it all delivers, like this. Soft pop often succumbs to lush orchestration and banks of harmonies but Kendall Meade & co. keep it all pocket-sized and portable. It's a small-band, natural-sounding record, brimming with breezy but definitely not throwaway tunes. 'I want to feel light', she sings; she succeeded...

Plants and Animals / Parc Avenue
This kind of sprawling, widescreen, kitchen-sink indie-rock (see also Annuals, Broken Social Scene et al) sorely needs a handy genre tag. Veering from taut grooving to blissed-out folksy reverie, Plants & Animals are a festival-ready proposition. The End of the Road, to be sure...
[plants and animals]
   posted by SMc at 4:31 AM |