February 22, 2007 An anonymous musician takes on the persona of a cartoon bear and releases a new electronic song via podcast three times a week for an entire calendar year. "Fantasy and Denouement" opens in some sort of airport walkway of the future before wending its way into an enticingly fizzy rhythm.
February 16, 2007 Andrew Bird's new Armchair Apocrypha finds him continuing to prove himself as a performer of significant elegance and depth. "Scythian Empires" amply demonstrates his gifts for marrying obtuse-but-evocative imagery to uncommonly lovely arrangements.
February 12, 2007 The Cost finds The Frames harboring more commercial ambitions than usual, but no one involved has forgotten singer Glen Hansard's odd ability to sound sweetly romantic, big-hearted, self-deprecating and emotionally stunted at the same time.
February 5, 2007 A sweet-voiced pop singer whose accessibility borders on quaintness, Ron Sexsmith nevertheless remains entrenched in pop's margins. It may or may not attract a large audience, but "Never Give Up" radiates the warmth that has become his signature.
January 29, 2007 Though it runs only two and a half minutes, The Apples in Stereo's "Sun Is Out" functions as a charming, modestly shambling mini-epic, complete with discrete movements that culminate in a full-on power-pop blowout. The effect remains infectious and beguiling throughout.
The Shins' members take the time to stuff their songs with many discrete, memorable hooks.
Courtesy of the artist
January 22, 2007 The Shins' fine new Wincing the Night Away is built of the same solid stuff that made its predecessors famous: lush pop melodies, rich harmonies, vaguely obtuse lyrics, and sly, sideways hooks. It also features a gorgeous, brightly swooning ringer in "Phantom Limb."
December 25, 2006 Song of the Day editor Stephen Thompson listened to thousands of albums in 2006 before settling on these 10 frequently overlooked favorites.
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December 1, 2006 Damien Jurado has experimented with everything from rollicking rock to electronic beats to found sound, but his stock in trade remains painfully intimate folk music. Traversing barren and dusty acoustic hellscapes, Jurado makes music that seems painstakingly constructed for consumption at 4 a.m.
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November 24, 2006 On her first solo album, Knives Don't Have Your Back, Emily Haines writes stripped-down folk songs that sound as catchy as they are doomstruck. The Metric singer purges personal and political demons through dark, minor-key melodies and glorious arrangements.
November 22, 2006 Every year brings a flood of new holiday CDs, and with good reason: They're quick and easy to make, most if not all of the songs have already been written, and they get reissued practically every year. From Sufjan Stevens to Twisted Sister to The Chipmunks, here's a look at 2006's holiday crop.
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November 15, 2006 Karen Dalton's In My Own Time sounds nicely fleshed out in the studio, as it showcases the singer's ability to interpret standards amid lush arrangements. But it's no surprise that the set's crown jewel is also its most haunting track: "Katie Cruel," on which Dalton gives a traditional lament its definitive reading.
November 10, 2006 Rice's music demands close attention: Whether he's singing in an aching whisper or yelling amid strings and other pomp (often in the same song), he's a nuanced performer who isn't afraid to lay his feelings bare. "Elephant" finds him carrying on in top form, in an epic ballad that showcases his considerable emotional and vocal range.
October 26, 2006 Okkervil River takes on a daunting challenge in a new song making the rounds as an MP3 download: It looks at the impact of a horrific event — in this case a presidential assassination — that hasn't actually taken place.
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