September 27, 2007 At first, The Avett Brothers' "Yardsale" unfolds as a fairly straightforward study of the mundane items at a neighborhood yard sale. But then, three-quarters of the way through, the North Carolina brothers shift gears radically, speculating about how nice it would be to burn the whole lot of it.
September 24, 2007 Stars' albums toggle back and forth between fizzy pop and dark snapshots of relationships in distress. On "Personal," singers Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell demonstrate that they've mastered the art of he-said/she-said ballads that expose raw nerves and rawer emotions.
September 19, 2007 Great Northern's "Low Is a Height" doesn't break a ton of lyrical ground: Instead, it's content to use vague phrases to help pile on the atmosphere. It's an effective strategy, as the song functions as the musical embodiment of a mood that's somehow both sunny and oppressive.
September 14, 2007 Iron and Wine's "Lovesong of the Buzzard" gets a wonderfully warm-blooded arrangement, as organs and steel guitars contribute to a sound that's downright springy. The arrangement may be a cool glass of lemonade, but singer Sam Beam spikes it with something potent and satisfying.
September 4, 2007 In the pre-apocalyptic love song "The Temptation of Adam," Josh Ritter demonstrates his considerable gift for subtle, warmly evocative turns of phrase. As the song unfolds, he revels in the simplicity of the end times, acknowledging that romance is easier when it unfolds in isolation.
August 16, 2007 An air of regret often hangs over the group's bittersweet reunion album, Time on Earth. Still, "Don't Stop Now" more than lives up to the worthy tradition of Crowded House's brightly catchy, sweetly upbeat best.
August 8, 2007 "Adventures in Solitude" closes the band's fine new album without conserving hooks: Opening with a few spare verses and memorable interludes, the song soon blooms into a series of rich, warm-blooded choruses, as Neko Case rushes the spotlight and the strings sweep in.
July 2, 2007 With its detailed look at the pop-cultural detritus in a miserable late-night rest stop, "I-95" first appears to be just another Fountains of Wayne-ian look at someone's mundane, loveless existence. But as it unfolds, the song takes on a sincere sweetness that the band wears well.
June 19, 2007 Countless music fans have attempted to craft the perfect mix CD — just the thing to put a soundtrack on special occasions. But an hour of love-themed dinner music for a wedding reception isn't as easy to assemble as it may seem.
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June 15, 2007 The Boy with No Name is a sparkling surprise, as the Scottish pop band Travis returns with a sharp batch of winning pop songs. Best of all is "Selfish Jean," on which singer Fran Healy disparages an ex-lover over a chiming, instantly memorable guitar hook.
June 8, 2007 The Most Serene Republic does a terrific job reinventing Stars' fizzy pop gem "Ageless Beauty" without discarding Amy Millan's candy-sweet vocal track. Replacing the original's propulsive power-pop arrangement with a rustically chugging lope, the remix clatters along charmingly.
May 10, 2007 Virtually every track on Feist's The Reminder hits its mark. That's especially true when she's crafting gloriously propulsive, mid-tempo mini-anthems like "I Feel It All," a song that seems to explode out of at least three different musical eras at once.
May 7, 2007 Great Lake Swimmers hasn't abandoned its short but grand tradition of marrying sweetness and sorrow: Whether examining someone's tortured psyche or traversing the mountains and lakes of "Your Rocky Spine," it's unafraid to explore forbidden and forbidding terrain.
May 2, 2007 James Morrison's Undiscovered made him a star in his native U.K. last summer, and the disc's release here portends similarly big things: Mixing the smoky soul of Terence Trent D'Arby with the catchy crooning of James Blunt, the 22-year-old is nothing if not commercially viable.
April 23, 2007 A Glaswegian rock band that punctuates its guitar-fueled rock blasts with moody interludes and bits of esoteric instrumentation, The Twilight Sad makes epic songs that sound both punishing and pretty. Singer James Graham paints a vague but distinct portrait of alienation.
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