Explosions in the Sky
All of the Sudden I Miss Everyone
Temporary Residence; February 2007
Explosions in the Sky’s instrumental post-rock with a capital “R” relies on the standard soft-loud dynamic, but is played with an earnest melodrama that sets the band apart from its peers. Its latest album refines its approach and catches the group on the verge of a potential mainstream breakthrough. A recent appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, as well as a successful tour in progress, can only help the group’s cause. And for the new listener, All of the Sudden’s penultimate track, “Catastrophe and the Cure,” distills the essence of the group’s appeal. Though the band’s self-consciously epic sound may not appeal to everyone, its latest record is one of the first standout releases of 2007.
Lost Highway; February 2007
At times achingly gorgeous, and at others aggravatingly grating, Lucinda Williams’s new album feels a lot like 2001’s Essence. These songs don’t conform to traditional verse-chorus-verse structure, instead meandering for minutes at a time with little change. This doesn’t mean West is boring. Rather, it’s the work of an artist who is confident enough to explore different approaches to making her music. As a result, West feels like a movie score, one song blending into another, the sum greater than the parts. Watch out for three songs that are nearly unlistenable and should have been left out”Unsuffer Me” indeed. Edit out these 20 minutes, and you’re listening to another sublimely brilliant album by an American original.
Merge Records; March 2007
Genuine articles emerge two, maybe three times in any pop music era. Arcade Fire is ours. Sure, Win Butler courts a disastrous fixation with anthems. But this CD, with its murkier grounding, keeps floating up surprises. Butler sings a lot about God. (He’s trs doubtful.) More often, though, he invokes a blue vision of the U.S. in a scouring voice that soars over a caffeinated beat. Railing against dropping bombs, the White House, door-to-door salespeople, and “the sea of violence between us,” he employs a pipe organ and other human instruments of grandeur. Butler doesn’t want to live in his father’s house no more. And heeding the band’s passion, you’ll likely believe rock music offers some salvation from it.
The Light Divides
Signature Records; February 2007
Harmonizing in rock music is becoming an increasingly rare art form, though one spin of Winterpills will leave you wondering why that is. Laid over lush, sonic landscapes that bring to mind early Radiohead, the voices of Philip Price, Flora Reed, and Dennis Crommett weave seamlessly into one another. The result is a beautifully melancholic album better suited to the fall months when light falls clean and white in the afternoon. And though a few tracks fall a bit flat”A Ransom” declares, “This is what you will wear at the end of the world,” but oddly draws to mind medieval minstrelsas a whole, The Light Divides is worth a listen during just about any season.