November 30, 2006 xx
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.
October 19, 2006 "Don't Want You To Wake Up" is almost stridently good-natured, with Teitur extolling the virtues of watching a lover sleep amid strummed acoustic guitars and subtly breezy strings. The track never accelerates beyond an agreeable amble, but it isn't about momentum anyway.
September 26, 2006 Sera Cahoone has played drums for Band of Horses and Carissa's Wierd (sic), two groups whose music can be majestically beautiful, wrenchingly powerful or both. None of their output, however, provides reason to expect Cahoone's solo work to drift into territory as soothing as her gorgeous, breezily hypnotic "Couch Song."
September 6, 2006 During a hiatus from The Frames, Glen Hansard recorded The Swell Season with Czech singer Marketa Irglova, and the result aches and swoons behind lovely arrangements. A longtime master of sublimely melodramatic sad-bastard music, Hansard finds words of hard-won hope and comfort on "Falling Slowly."
August 31, 2006 Often recalling the rustic delicacy of Iron and Wine — if it were soaked in strings and robbed of some of its stark clarity — Horse Feathers' music radiates homey intimacy, as Peter Broderick fleshes out Justin Ringle's voice and guitar with all manner of warmly unamplified instrumentation.
August 24, 2006 Musicians often chronicle the anguish, adjustments and small triumphs associated with a relationship's end. But few capture the emotional rawness and suffocating isolation quite as powerfully as Lisa Germano's "Too Much Space."
August 17, 2006 Adem's "Spirals" opens on a tiny scale before looking ever farther outward, drawing parallels between intertwined galaxies and people in love. In the process, the sweet ballad magnifies the way a small gesture of affection can reverberate with a force that's impossible to quantify.
August 9, 2006 "I lived low enough so the moon wouldn't waste its light on me," Jason Molina sings on "Get Out Get Out Get Out," ornamented by a plodding drum-machine beat and a few minimalist strums on an acoustic guitar. It's the singer at his bleakly hypnotic best.
August 3, 2006 Shedding the prickly remoteness that has made him an acquired taste, Eric Bachmann crafts a collection that pairs his gruff, world-weary lyrics with a newfound approachability. That's not to suggest, however, that Bachmann has lost his gift for grimness.
July 31, 2006 For NPR.org's Stephen Thompson, the 25th birthday of MTV brings up memories of his own appearance on the network, co-hosting an episode of Alternative Nation with Kennedy in 1993. The details of what transpired during those moments can only be known by Thompson and a few close friends, who are still laughing.