Saturday, January 17, 2009

the Muse

The Gift
Own Rec-

"I may
be green,
but I did-
n't fall off
the truck, goodbye, goodbye/goodluck."
-- the title track

The fourth full-length from the Gift Machine arrives in a striking silk-screened sleeve on which black and white ceram-
ic owls cluster beneath a deep-red sky emblazoned with the re-
lease details letter-pressed in gold. If the band's propulsive pop isn't as stark or dramatic as that cover suggests, it gets the job done, recalling a lo-fi Beatles or Velvet Underground in a laid-
back mood. Andrea Gruber's delicate backing vocals soften
Dave Matthies's deep, Lee Hazlewood-esque lead lines as the
instrumentation drifts and buzzes around them. Dreamy.

Loney Dear, Dear John,
Polyvinyl Record Co. [1/27/09]

"That's how I fell from top of
12 stories/to the ground."
-- "Harm/Slow"

Dear John represents Emil Svanängen and Co.'s fifth record
in five years (including Sub Pop's 2007 reissue Loney, Noir), and the press notes describe it as his last, hinting that the Swedish multi-instrumentalist will continue to pursue his muse in
some other form or under some other name (good thing, too, since people often mistakenly call his project Lonely Dear).

Compared to countryman Jens Lekman, Svanängen inhabits
darker territory—like a cross between David Bowie and the
Hidden Cameras—but bears similar melodic gifts. Andrew Bird,
currently touring behind Noble Beast, adds violin to "I Got Lost."

Stuart and Caan, The Mayfly
Dance, Knw-Yr-Own Records

"God asked me up to heaven for tea."
-- "Lord of the Cosmos"

Stuart and Caan, the British duo behind The Mayfly Dance,
have an Incredible String Band thing going on, which will surely
strike some as entrancing, others as precious, i.e. wavery voic-
es, scratchy violin, rough-hewn recording, and hippie-dippy
lyrics. As a Libra, I tend to seek the middle ground, so I
vote for entrancing and precious, since their charm
feels more heartfelt than calculated...though I could
do without the funny voices on "Cosmos." Fans of
the Bevis Frond, Animal Collective, and their
pal Devendra Banhart would do wise
to give these groovy guys a listen.

Endnote: Opening for Mr. Bird, Loney Dear plays the
Moore Theater on 2/23, while the Gift Machine guests
on KEXP's Audioasis on 3/14. For more information about
Loney Dear, please click here; and for Stuart and Caan,
here. Gift Machine images from their MySpace Page
(Melissa Stager took the picture; dig that tinted bottle).

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