Matthew Dear Asa Breed [Ghostly Intl]

Rating: 8.0

Strong believers in live instrumentation oft dismiss the entire (sweeping) genre of electronic music; its endless repetition of synth loops, while providing consistent dancing fuel for clubbers on ecstasy, also tends to drill mercilessly into the brain. Asa Breed, Matthew Dear’s second full album release, provides a more accessible angle on the somewhat rigid genre of (micro) house music and achieves a powerful affect with minimal melodic song structures. Thusly, Matthew Dear has bravely gone where few dj/producers (is that an accepted term now?) dare to tread: into the world of the emotive, song-driven electronic album. And with the evolution of most electronic music at a complete standstill, we should be thankful for the efforts of Dear, 4tet, Squarepusher, and any other electronic artists who fearlessly push the envelope, for they remind us that – wouldn’t you know it? – electronic music is good for more than just spring break in Ibiza. Like, it’s also good for episodes of lovelorn self-pity.

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Loney, Dear Loney, Noir [Sub Pop]


Rating: 6.0

First you see one indie rocker from Sweden; let’s say it’s Jens Lekman. Then they just keep showing up and nobody takes notice until they become a threat to our American way of life. You know the ones: the Radio Dept., Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, I’m From Barcelona. They come to our country, steal our dreams of playing homemade synth pop, and charm our socks off with their damn triangles, hand clapping, and sing-along choruses. We are face to face with a Scandinavian coup. If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

I am John Video
I am John mp3

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David Kilgour The Far Now [Merge]


Rating: 6.0

Kudos to Mr. Kilgour for pulling more rabbits out of his hat than you’ve got fingers and toes. The New Zealander has been co-writing rock history since forming The Clean in the early eighties and continues to deliver on clean, ephemeral pop rock. This album sounds like the product of a series of casual jam sessions meshed with Kilgour’s pure whimsy.

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Mezzanine Owls Slingshot Echoes


Rating: 7.0

Cohesive debuts are few and far between. Here is an album in the ruff: the Mezzanine Owls are sure-footed in their fledgling sound, which is all the more grown-up for standing on the shoulders of giants like R.E.M. and The Jesus and Mary Chain. As a Los Angeles based band, the Owls sound native to Southern California about as much as Pink Martini sounds indigenous to Portland. What they do sound like: Silver Jews, My Bloody Valentine, Built to Spill, and Slowdive.

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Suburban Kids With Biblical Names #3 [Minty Fresh]

Rating: 6.75

The cover art gets a perfect ten. As for the music, it’s cheeky and clever, whimsical, and sports a consistent combination of electronic beats and habit-forming pop melodies. Swedish duo Peter Gunnarson and Johan Hedberg have created feel-good music in this album chock full of happy-go-lucky ditties transparently influenced by the likes of the Magnetic Fields. Their mission? To “turn all the dance floors into a burning inferno of ba-ba- ba”, says Labrador. If I must put this band in a category, I’ll go with what they claim on MySpace: “Hyphy/Tropical/Regional Mexican”. Also lifted off their MySpace page: “sounds like a long line of rocks or sand near the surface of the sea”.

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