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Here we go again. Hope you enjoy it! :)


Danielson Famile - Fetch the Compass Kids
(indie-rock, experimental)

Danielson's exuberant lyrical yelps might sound like a little too much for some to bear at first listen, but they're infused with such childlike joy, and are so well matched to the group's playful sing-song aesthetic, that they'll probably still win you over in the end. To oversimplify things a little, Fetch the Compass Kids could probably be described as a "non-preachy hippy Christian indie-rock album", one infused with a sense of communal spirit, natural warmth and ever-present undertones of brotherly love. It also seriously rocks out, as Danielson and his Famile know how to cut loose and, perhaps more importantly, when to cut loose - it takes a real expert's grasp on song structure to reign everything into place for the perfect subsequent musical explosion, and Danielson Famile display such a proficiency time and again throughout the album.


Jaga Jazzist - A Livingroom Hush
(jazz, electronic)

A Livingroom Hush, the debut album by Norwegian electro-jazz collective Jaga Jazzist, expertly recalls similarly themed reference points, like the works of Amon Tobin, as well as the measured musical-academia of the 90s Chicago post-rock scene and the IDM pranksterism of Squarepusher. The pleasing result is an album that alternates between groovy rhythms and chilled out lounge vibes, while remaining firmly grounded and consistent from start to finish. Most of the instrumentation here has been produced by the artists themselves, rather than from pre-existing or computer-generated samples, making for a very organic sound. The upbeat opener "Animal Chin" is one of the coolest things on the album, while the mellow, filmic detours provided by "Lithuania" and "Cinematic" give the album a graceful, understated finale.


Smog - Rain on Lens
(lo-fi, singer-songwriter, folk)

Rain on Lens retains the sleepy contemplation of most of Bill Callahan's singer/songwriter output as Smog, however it definitely feels like a more purposeful effort than his previous album, Dongs of Sevotion, an album which never really grabbed me. The songs here are wistful and dreamlike, but there's a directness in Callahan's lyricism that should really reach and involve the listener. The album has that low, noirish sound that's fairly ubiquitous across all of his work, but there's a breezier vibe running through the songs here that feels quite unique to Rain on Lens, making for a concise and surprisingly foot-tappy effort for Mister Callahan.


The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
(garage-rock, blues-rock)

The White Stripes' major breakthrough album is another great serving of thumpy blues-rock from Jack and Meg, and although it doesn't quite measure up to its excellent predecessors, it only falls narrowly short of that lofty benchmark. It's slightly overlong, and honestly the last four tracks are pretty superfluous (the album should really end with the bone-crushingly huge instrumental "Aluminium" for maximum impact), but the complaints end there. The easily recognisable singles are all major highpoints here, whether it's the romantic stomp of "Hotel Yorba", the blistering guitar-assault of "Fell in Love With a Girl", the raw riffage of "Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground" or the ultra-cute "We're Going to Be Friends." However, there's also some nice surprises to be found amongst the songs you didn't hear on the radio, with plenty of other instantly-loveable tracks being contained within White Blood Cells - any of which could've been top-tier singles in their own right.


Drive-By Truckers - Southern Rock Opera

The Drive By Truckers' double-disc, southern-rock opus was one hell of an ambitious project, especially considering that it was released relatively early in the band's life-cycle and was largely funded by independent investors and the band members themselves. The gamble paid off, though, as Southern Rock Opera is a tremendous success, documenting the life of a fictional rockstar (a kind of amalgam of the Truckers' own members and Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zandt) from the starry-eyed dreams of high school through to their band's final days, which chillingly reflect those of Lynyrd Skynyrd down to the letter. There's also some meticulously researched detours into Southern history, including the amazing fist-disc centrepiece "Three Great Alabama Icons", that give the album a fleshed-out feeling and a nice sense of place. It's a very honest, affecting listen, and for the full experience it's worth hearing alongside head Trucker Patterson Hood's track-by-track annotations on the Drive-By Truckers' website.
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