That Which Didn't Sink, 2004

cover Brian Wilson: Smile (Nonesuch) Rating: 17/20
Brian Wilson's legendary, long-shelved pièce de resistance has been resurrected, restructured and even supplemented, yet the 37-year gap between the recording's conception and completion is blissfully free of technological anachronisms. The suite-like format means the interludes of program music don't stand up well on their own, but the central showpieces ("Heroes and Villains," "Good Vibrations," "Cabin Essence," the entire "Wonderful/Song for Children/Child Is Father of the Man/"Surf's Up" block) are still dazzling feats of innovation.
coverBjörk: Medúlla (Elektra) Rating: 16/20
Practically a genre unto herself now, the visionary diva crafts what may be her career masterpiece -- a daring collection composed almost entirely of multi-tracked vocals (with help from Mike Patton, Robert Wyatt, a Canadian throat-singer and two traditional choirs). The idea of "dance music" becomes almost irrelevant as the 14 pieces magically span abstract collages ("Ancestors," "Öll Birtan"), an a capella solo ("Show Me Forgiveness"), the mischievously funky "Triumph of a Heart," eerie spirituals ("Vökuró," "Sonnets/Unrealities XI"), two flashes of relative accessibility ("Who Is It," the swooping "Oceania") and the astounding operatic pound of "Where Is the Line."
coverEd Harcourt: Strangers (Astralwerks) Rating: 15/20
This gifted, mysteriously overlooked songwriter's third album -- a welcome rebound after 2003's meandering From Every Sphere -- is a triumph of versatility, showing an artist equally comfortable on guitar or keyboard, equally comfortable whispering intimately or wailing to the heavens. Harcourt's self-searching lyrics are sometimes overdramatic (all the rage nowadays, of course), but the emotional pull of tracks both big ("The Storm Is Coming," the Nick Cave-like "Let Love Not Weigh Me Down") and small ("The Trapdoor," "Open Book") can be startling.
A.C. Newman: The Slow Wonder (Matador) Rating: 15/20
What's most remarkable about the lead New Pornographer's solo debut is how it assembles so many sharp, addictive melodies which totally defy easy comparisons and the standard, post-Beatles musical vocabulary. Crosscutting distinctive, martial rhythms with elusive, fragmented sketches of ethical conflict, Newman puts together a tightly arranged disc which compensates for its brevity (33 minutes) with the dizzying consistency of should-be hits like "Miracle Drug," "Secretarial," the math-pop of "On the Table" and the cello-soaked "The Town Halo" (essential listening for Roy Wood fans?).
coverDavid Byrne: Grown Backwards (Nonesuch) Rating: 14/20
Byrne's choice to record a gentle album focused on classical string arrangements paid off wonderfully -- the high range and keening quality of his voice blends perfectly with the sighs of the violins and cellos. The quiet eloquence of his morning-coffee reflections gains a polished beauty in tracks like "Tiny Apocalypse," the playful "The Other Side of This Life" and "Glass, Concrete & Stone" (the two straightforward opera pieces are dubious, however).
coverP J Harvey: Uh Huh Her (Island) Rating: 14/20
After the accessible celebration of 2000's Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, this gritty, (almost) one-woman show is a return to Harvey's original scabrous, post-punk blues. The album has some filler and pacing problems (the pallid final tracks end the disc with a whimper), but her wounded moan electrifies these scuttling grooves, whether they're scorned-woman attacks ("The Life & Death of Mr. Badmouth," the white-hot "Who the Fuck?"), quasi-traditional folk ballads ("No Child of Mine," the gypsy-bride processional of "Pocket Knife"), the thunderous "Cat on the Wall," the marimba-driven "You Come Through" or the unusually melodic lament of "It's You."
coverElvis Costello & the Imposters: The Delivery Man (Lost Highway) Rating: 14/20
The ridiculously versatile Costello takes another spin through country/blues territory with this solid disc, though its genre affiliations may owe more to the greasy, ramshackle arrangements and Bible-belt lyrical themes than the song forms themselves. Adding vocal cameos from Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams along the way, Costello simplifies his imagery and pulls out his vintage guitars, reaching rustic heights with the scuttling "Bedlam," "The Scarlet Tide" (taken from the Cold Mountain score), "Either Side of the Same Town" and "There's a Story in Your Voice."
coverSonic Youth: Sonic Nurse (DGC) Rating: 14/20
New York's beloved guitar-noise sculptors roll out their best album in several tries with Sonic Nurse, a looser, low-production set of extended pieces which recalls their classic '80s catalog more than other recent efforts. "Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream" is just as lousy as the title suggests, but smoother singing (even Gordon's grunts are more polished) and the group's usual mastery of shifting guitar harmonics lifts rambling tracks like "Pattern Recognition," "Stones," the gently haunting "Unmade Bed" and the sinister "Paper Cup Exit."
coverElliott Smith: From a Basement on the Hill (Anti-) Rating: 14/20
Practically finished before Smith's tragic death, this album -- which truly feels like an "album" rather than a set of pieced-together leftovers -- is not as accessible as his two DreamWorks discs, and suffers from a few woozy, meandering tracks overstuffed with noisy auxiliary players. Still, many of the ensemble tunes do pay off (especially "A Passing Feeling" and the ethereal "King's Crossing"), and Smith's acoustic-folk wizardry ("Let's Get Lost," "Twilight," the frisky perfection of "Memory Lane") remained exquisite to the end.
The Futureheads: The Futureheads (Sire) Rating: 14/20
The Futureheads may be a simple guitars/bass/drums combo, but "simple" is hardly the word for a batch of songs so ingeniously stuffed with ping-ponging vocal battles, hyperactive rhythms and 180-degree twists. The mix is a bit muddy and the lyrics are thin (mostly just mimimalist sketches of anxiety), but punk-pop blasts like "Robot," "A to B," "Decent Days and Nights" and "Meantime" are full of springy hooks.

Mission of Burma: ONoffON (Matador) Rating: 14/20
Minus tape manipulator Martin Swope, Boston's underground legends have reunited after 20 years and, amazingly, sound as powerful as ever (just check "Wounded World," "The Enthusiast" or "Playland"). Classified as "punk" more because of raw instrumentation and vocals than because of actual songwriting style, Burma slams together complex harmonics, abrupt mood changes, chanted hooks and experimental interludes into heady tracks which will make today's teen punks quake in their strip-mall boots.

Bettie Serveert: Attagirl (Minty Fresh) Rating: 14/20
These introspective Dutch popsters have radically reshaped their sound since their heralded Palomine days -- now they're on the Cardigans' old label, and the music's airy arrangements, more feminine tone and freshly inserted electronics seem to reflect this. Surprisingly among the group's top releases, Attagirl succeeds in an impressive number of ways, including acoustic balladry ("You've Changed"), high-tech pop ("Dreamaniacs"), laidback jazziness (the title track), tuneful guitar rock ("Hands Off"), a graceful waltz ("Staying Kind") and the genuinely strange hybrid of "Greyhound Song."

Marianne Faithfull: Before the Poison (Anti-) Rating: 13/20
On Faithfull's umpteenth set of love-weary readings, the presence of heavyweight collaborators Polly Jean Harvey and Nick Cave (who separately produce, play on and write/co-write eight of the 10 songs) is a mixed blessing -- while Harvey's scraping guitar and Cave's cinematic, piano-driven landscapes are always welcome, their slight melodies are better suited for their own embellished, howling vocals than for Faithfull's measured croak. Though she sounds a little overwhelmed at times (particularly on "My Friends Have"), Faithfull adds some fine lyrics and is at her best on the three Cave-led tracks, Harvey's title song and the tinkling lullabye "City of Quartz."

Sam Phillips: A Boot and a Shoe (Nonesuch) Rating: 13/20
The inscrutable songstress takes her second trip into cabaret turf, opting for stripped-down arrangements of acoustic guitar, occasional blurs of nostalgic strings and oddly overbearing drums. Phillips' sensuous lyrics are wonderfully literate (yes, Gilmore Girls fans, her vocabulary goes beyond "la la la"), and "How to Quit," "I Dreamed I Stopped Dreaming," "Reflecting Light" and "Infiltration" have plenty of understated pop appeal.

The Muffs: Really Really Happy (Five Foot Two) Rating: 13/20
The reunited punk-pop trio's first album in five years is happily one of their best, plowing through 17 tight, hooky tunes in just 42 minutes. Kim Shattuck's twisted intonation is still irritating (does she strangle her vowels like that as a homage to Joey Ramone?), but her wounded-but-tough lyrics and inventive chord changes make songs like "Freak Out," "A Little Luxury," "Everybody Loves You" and "I'm Here I'm Not" a joy.

Of Montreal: Satanic Panic in the Attic (Polyvinyl) Rating: 13/20
Wide-eyed auteur Kevin Barnes and his fellow misfits take a step toward dance music with this surprising disc, in which they drop New Wave keyboards and programmed beats into their trademark left-field psychedelia. The tracks seem more streamlined and not so cloying, as oddly thumping tunes like "Disconnect the Dots" and "Rapture Rapes the Muses" blend with endearing tunes like "My British Tour Diary," "Chrissie Kiss the Corpse" (warped with a touch of John Entwhistle's black humor) and the jaunty "Lysergic Bliss."

Stereolab: Margerine Eclipse (Elektra) Rating: 13/20
Losing important collaborators (in this case, Jim O'Rourke, Tortoise's John McEntire and the late Mary Hansen) only aggravates Stereolab's tendency to seem insular, cold and mathematical, and this spotty disc is one of the electronic-rock titans' weaker releases. Laetitia Sadier (pitch-corrected to a grating degree, apparently) still sings about humanity as if she's an alien observer, and these well-arranged but erratically structured pieces sound aimless beyond the bubbly "Vonal Declosion," the hard-driving "Margerine Rock," "Bop Scotch" (a subtle nod to Smokey Robinson?) and "Cosmic Country Noir."

Camper Van Beethoven: New Roman Times (Pitch-a-Tent) Rating: 13/20
Most band reunions have an element of warmth and fun, but not this grim, overlong concept album depicting a young, disenfranchised soldier on a wobbly path to oblivion. Fifteen years after Key Lime Pie, the former college-rock heroes (still led by David Lowery, now better known for fronting Cracker) grind through a sketchy tale which scarcely even makes a political point, while serving up eclectic instrumentals and disappointingly few songs which hold up out of context ("51-7," "Might Makes Right" and the rehashed "Hippy Chix" are as good as it gets).

Juliana Hatfield: In Exile Deo (Zöe) Rating: 13/20
It's easy to roll one's eyes at Hatfield's sullen persona and girlish voice (she still sings like a 12-year-old), but she continues to release solid collections of personal, distinctive pop-rock with a dependably sweet sense of melody. There are few frills to this disc's basic guitar attack beyond string parts on two ballads, but the gutsy role-playing of her first-person lyrics (subjects here include an intervention for an alcoholic father and the weary use of casual sex as a distraction from heartache) is provocative and, yes, underrated.

Patti Smith: Trampin' (Columbia) Rating: 13/20
This influential poet/singer's music was never especially imaginative, so her more conservative-sounding albums (such as this one) tend to fade into plodding classic-rock fare -- you've heard these chord changes a thousand times before, even with the peculiar meter of "Stride of the Mind." Well-produced and powerfully sung (her voice just improves with age), Trampin' has softer sentiments than many of her other records, but there are glimpses of the old free-form shaman in "Jubilee," "Gandhi" and the 12-minute "Radio Baghdad."

Ken Stringfellow: Soft Commands (Yep Roc) Rating: 13/20
Each Stringfellow solo album seems twice as ambitious as the last one, and this diverse, polished set finally establishes him as a viable name outside of the Posies. Moving into straitlaced singer-songwriter turf while bravely shrugging off "But is it alternative?" issues, Stringfellow splits his talents between piano and guitar while trying everything from soul ("Let Me Do") to reggae ("You Become the Dawn," plus a regrettable dub coda) to a Parisian waltz ("Je Vous en Prie") to a breathtaking Beach Boys pastiche ("When U Find Someone").

Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand (Epic) Rating: 13/20
These chic, much-ballyhooed Scots remind the rock kids how to dance with this shallow but sexy debut, where pounding New Wave beats collide with mannered vocals and choppy guitar licks. Singer Alex Kapranos' endless fascination with singles-bar courtship is just a fluffy tease (Bryan Ferry, he ain't), but the brittle hooks of "Take Me Out," "Jacqueline," "This Fire" and "Darts of Pleasure" are strong enough that the lack of substance doesn't matter.

Dogs Die in Hot Cars: Please Describe Yourself (V2) Rating: 13/20
Yet another young band who pilfers the New Wave hooks of XTC, Madness and Talking Heads, these well-scrubbed Scottish kids arrive with this tight set of bouncy, energetic pop. The flat arrangements sound the same on every track and the lyrics are just glib stabs at "cog in the wheel"-type social comment, but when the group nails down a perfect chorus (see "I Love You 'Cause I Have To," "Apples & Oranges," "Godhopping" or "Lounger"), it's hard to resist bopping along with the beat.

David Thomas & Two Pale Boys: 18 Monkeys on a Dead Man's Chest (Smog Veil) Rating: 13/20
The Pere Ubu frontman's latest side project is a disjointed but compelling assembly of folksy lyrics, guitars, horns and quirky squeeze-boxes. There is no drumming on these free-floating pieces, as Thomas' folksy, vagabond lyrics propel a disc which begins with two fuzzy doses of tight blues-rock, switches to the pleasingly jazzy "Little Sister" and some impenetrable meanderings, then turns wonderfully atmospheric with three final tracks where Andy Diagram's trumpet adds a vaporous Jon Hassell feel.

Paul Westerberg: Folker (Vagrant) Rating: 13/20
Thankfully, this is the most polished of Westerberg's one-man-band discs, though its endearingly personal tracks are still undercut by sluggish tempos, lazy vocals and rambling endings. Not the acoustic set which the title suggests, Folker does update some familiar Replacements hallmarks in affecting, low-key tunes such as "Now I Wonder," "My Dad," the chiming "Lookin' Up in Heaven" and the perfect pop of "As Far as I Know."

The Minus 5: In Rock (Yep Roc) Rating: 13/20
Effortlessly knocked off in one day during March, 2000, this quick disc recalls the joyful, '60s-descended garage rock of Scott McCaughey's other band, the Young Fresh Fellows. The amended reissue adds four 2003-era tracks (the time gap is undetectable, except in the processed drums of "Cosmic Jive"), but McCaughey's mix of forlorn romance and trashy fun is always endearing (look out for the Beatle-esque "The Girl I Never Met" and several songs with a campy horror-movie motif).

The Go! Team: Thunder, Lightning, Strike (Columbia) Rating: 13/20
This inscrutable party record is a no-fidelity storm of bashing drums, soul samples, horn charts, harmonica and incidental vocals which sound like cheerleaders grabbed from a local playground. The formula barely varies from track to track (save "Hold Yr Terror Close," a jaunty piano tune added for the U.S. release), but the cacophonous celebration is loads of fun (and embarrassingly catchy).

Snow Patrol: Final Straw (A & M) Rating: 12/20
Reversing the setback of 2001's feeble When It's All Over We Still Have to Clear Up, the dreamy Scottish rockers move up to a major label for this solid album of radio-ready tunes. Snow Patrol never had any fresh ideas (Lou Barlow and My Bloody Valentine, among others, are easily detected influences), but Gary Lightbody's creamy voice, lovelorn lyrics and tightly written melodies are quite seductive on "How to Be Dead," "Spitting Games," the hammering tension of "Ways & Means" and the power ballad "Run."

Firewater: Songs We Should Have Written (Jetset) Rating: 12/20
An all-covers album is an interesting move for an underground band like Firewater, but singer Tod A.'s bitter, deadened sneer doesn't have the charisma to breathe life into a lyric like his legendary inspirations (Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Tom Waits and others). Sonny and Cher's "The Beat Goes On" (a duet with Luna's Britta Phillips), Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" and Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" easily mesh with Tod's flat cynicism, but other tracks ("Hey Bulldog," "Paint It Black," "Some Velvet Morning") fall miles short of the originals.

Luna: Rendezvous (Jetset) Rating: 12/20
In typically solid but unremarkable fashion, Luna says goodbye with this soothing disc of gentle pop, creamy ballads and dry humor. Still turning through those circular, post-VU/Feelies grooves, Dean Wareham and band offer few surprises, but the peppy "Speedbumps," "Astronaut" (check the subtle touches of electronica) and "The Owl & the Pussycat" help close out the group's 13-year run on a strong note.

Chris Stamey: Travels in the South (Yep Roc) Rating: 12/20
This indie-pop pioneer is successful enough as a producer and guest musician that his own solo output is sporadic, but Travels in the South (Stamey's first song-based album since 1991) marks a solid return for his even-tempered vocals, rich guitars and distinctively off-center melodies. A loose concept record about life on the road, the disc is badly hampered by too much jamming (four five-minute tracks in a row, plus two needless instrumentals?), but "14 Shades of Green," "And I Love Her" and "Ride" are loaded with the brainy modulations and surprising chord changes which always elevated Stamey's best work.

They Might Be Giants: The Spine (Idlewild/Zoë) Rating: 12/20
The cottage industry otherwise known as They Might Be Giants seems more interested in specialty projects and work-for-hire nowadays, so this straightforward pop disc is refreshing to find amidst the duo's magazine collaborations, children's albums and television themes. Unfortunately, this blast of quick tunes (16 tracks in 36 minutes) is not one of the essential TMBG releases -- underproduced, less eclectic, less manic and short on humor (there's even a song about alcoholism), it has too many tunes which are familiar rehash and too few with any fresh sense of whimsy (though "Stalk of Wheat," "Experimental Film" and the brassy waltz of "Museum of Idiots" are delightful fun).

Robyn Hitchcock: Spooked (Yep Roc) Rating: 12/20
This acoustic collaboration with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings doesn't really live up to its "Americana" billing -- the melodies, still steeped in UK folk, beg for a bluesier edge, and too many tracks sound like stripped-down pop tunes rather than songs specifically crafted for an acoustic setting. "Television" (a lover's ode to a personified boob tube) shows Hitchcock still can write a brilliant lyric, but "Everybody Needs Love," "We're Gonna Live in the Trees" (aha, some blues!) and the sinister "Creeped Out" are the only songs which deliver the complete package.

The Thrills: Let's Bottle Bohemia (Virgin) Rating: 12/20
Only 11 months after the gorgeous So Much for the City, the Thrills have rushed out this clunky disappointment, which seems to paste together all the inferior material which was cut from the debut. Mysteriously avoiding the wispy ballads which were the first album's greatest strength, this short disc (only 35 minutes, minus some hidden extras) adds a few tacky string charts while pumping up the tempos and electric guitars, but most of these unmemorable jaunts are over before their presence even registers.

Gruff Rhys: Yr Atal Genhedlaeth (Rough Trade) Rating: 12/20
More groove-based and less Britpop-influenced than typical Super Furry Animals records, the solo debut of Furries frontman Rhys is a succinct, 29-minute treat which strays into garage rock and a few ballads, but most often focuses on near-danceable tracks built around heavy rhythms and repetitive, folksy melody lines. The All-Welsh lyrics reduce some songs to an abstract, tribal-chant feel (not necessarily a bad thing), but the scrappy guitar hooks of "Epynt" and "Y Gwybodusion" or pounding beats of "Rhagluniaeth Ysgafn" and "Gwn Mi Wn" (no instruments beyond drums and vocal overdubs!) are catchy beyond any language barriers.

Mosquitos: Sunshine Barato (Bar/None) Rating: 12/20
The sweetly romantic trio's second album is another endearing slice of bilingual, bossa nova-inflected pop, admittedly shallow but cute all the same. The songs lack the melodic complexity of the Brazilian classics, but the detours into American indie-pop (what's this, harmonica on "Domesticada"?) are actually less effective than south-of-Panama flirtations such as "Flood," the title song, "No Fim do País" and "Só Você e Eu."

The Blue Nile: High (Sanctuary) Rating: 12/20
On the Blue Nile's fourth album (in a mere 22 years), the arty Scottish trio unfortunately swaps its past releases' lush atmospherics for tired synthesizers which sap the emotional impact of Paul Buchanan's tremulous vocals. Most of these plodding, static ballads lack the stirring rise of classic Blue Nile tracks, and Buchanan's fortysomething concerns about marriage, children and domestic routine are only sporadically affecting -- even the best songs ("Broken Loves," "High," "She Saw the World") produce none of the expected goosebumps.

Arto Lindsay: Salt (Righteous Babe) Rating: 12/20
Arto Lindsay (late of the Ambitious Lovers, the Lounge Lizards and DNA) again dips into his unique blend of laidback Brazilian pop and downtown avant-funk, crooning romantic melodies in his thin, passive voice while spicing up the brew with electronics and his trademark guitar scratches. His catalog's uniformity deadens its appeal, but the drum tracks have some extra punch on this disc and a few tunes (the graceful "Kamo," the insistent "Combustível," the half-rapped "Jardim Da Alma") rise above the inertia.

Mouse on Mars: Radical Connector (Thrill Jockey) Rating: 11/20
The formerly unassailable electronic duo misfires with this disappointing set of vocal-based pieces, where stilted second-language lyrics (this is your fault, Stereolab!) decorate plodding rhythm tracks which lack MOM's usual skittering complexities. The vocal experiments of 2001's Idiology were novel and refreshing, but the new disc's tired filtering effects and abstracted aphorisms just detract from the group's ingenious sound collages.

R.E.M.: Around the Sun (Warner Bros.) Rating: 11/20
R.E.M.'s long, heralded career fades into depressing triviality with this easily ignored disc, a lackluster collection which is just as wan and faceless as the fuzzy figures on its sleeve. "Leaving New York" opens the album with a typically uplifting chorus, but sluggish tempos, vacant lyrics, overly measured singing and a numbing drone of generic keyboard colors drain the juice from nearly every other track.

Cranes: Particles & Waves (Manifesto) Rating: 11/20
This British brother-sister team seems to be searching for a new direction on this underwhelming disc, where the duo's former gothic splendor dissolves into a shaky perch somewhere between Björk's Vespertine and Nirvana Unplugged. Alison Shaw's unique, floating-child vocals are still haunting on "K56," the title track (yet another lift of the "Tomorrow Never Knows" drums?) and "Avenue A," but repetitive melodies and low-budget production (the past orchestrations are missed) sap the group's usual atmosphere.

Amy Correia: Lakeville (Nettwerk) Rating: 11/20
The New England singer-songwriter's second album squanders the promise of 2000's wonderful Carnival Love with a mediocre, clichéd set of folk tunes which has few dependable virtues beyond the limber, grainy delicacy of her unusual voice. Beyond "Hold On"'s lovely cello part and the title track's offbeat ukulele/trombone blend, the arrangements aren't nearly as distinctive as on the debut, and the songs' tired imagery -- rain, sun, lake, tree, train, road -- is taken straight from an old troubadour's handbook ("Stranded" has a nifty line about Hieronymous Bosch, however).

The Sunshine Fix: Green Imagination (spinART) Rating: 11/20
Take Bill Doss' previous band the Olivia Tremor Control, strip away its ambition and avant-garde intrigue, and you're left with the mediocre pastiches of the Sunshine Fix. Psychedelic pop can be fun even when plainly derivative, but weak hooks, lazy tempos and a missing instrumental edge ruin any potential this album had -- "Afterglow" and the faintly T. Rex-like "Face the Ghost" are the only tracks which come close to capturing the old paisley magic.

Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains: The Big Eyeball in the Sky (Prawn Song) Rating: 10/20
Nasal smirking disguised as vocals, exaggerated roly-poly bass lines, defiantly tuneless "funk"...could it be yet another permutation of the Les Claypool experience? Perhaps Claypool's most disposable release ever, this loose jam is notable for a few pointed anti-Dubya lyrics and the insertion of veteran keyboardist Bernie Worrell (gamely straining to add some music to the relentlessly percussive chopping) but very little else.

Compilations & archival releases

Bob Dylan: Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall (Legacy) Rating: 18/20
This stark double disc finds the young Dylan in a solo acoustic performance, sporting a higher, reedy voice and negotiating a difficult transition from protest songs to more personal explorations of emotion and symbolism. A late stretch of duets with Joan Baez is stiffer and less involving, but the other readings are brilliant, whether the material is humorous ("If You Gotta Go, Go Now," either "talkin' blues" tune), canonical ("A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," "The Times They Are A-Changin'") or impenetrably visionary ("Gates of Eden," a mindblowing "It's Alright, Ma, I'm Only Bleeding").

The Decemberists: The Tain (Kill Rock Stars), Jason Falkner: Bliss Descending (Wreckchords), 50 Foot Wave: 50 Foot Wave (Throwing Music), Queens of the Stone Age: Stone Age Complications (Interscope)

Endorsed but still unreviewed
Air: Talkie Walkie, Aloha: Here Comes Everyone, American Music Club: Love Songs for Patriots, Badly Drawn Boy: One Plus One Is One, Frank Black: Frank Black Francis, Blonde Redhead: Misery Is a Butterfly, Nick Cave: Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, Elvis Costello: Il Sogno, Cowboy Junkies: One Soul Now, Deerhoof: Milk Man, Tanya Donelly: Whiskey Tango Ghosts, Einsturzende Neubauten: Perpetuum Mobile, Elf Power: Walking with the Beggar Boys, the Fiery Furnaces: Blueberry Boat, the Finn Brothers: Everyone Is Here, Guided by Voices: Half Smiles of the Decomposed, Interpol: Antics, Bill Janovitz & Crown Victoria: Fireworks on TV, Lambchop: Aw, C'mon, Lambchop: No, You C'mon, Mark Lanegan: Bubblegum, Courtney Love: America's Sweetheart, Múm: Summer Make Good, Joanna Newsom: The Milk-Eyed Mender, Matthew Sweet: Living Things, Glenn Tilbrook: Transatlantic Ping Pong, To Rococo Rot: Hotel Morgen, Tortoise: It's All Around You, the Velvet Crush: Stereo Blues, Rufus Wainwright: Want Two, Brian Wilson: Gettin' In over My Head // Nick Drake: Made to Love Magic, Lou Reed/John Cale/Nico: Le Bataclan '72

comments by Eric Broome

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