September 29, 2008 The former Clem Snide singer always mixed wryness with unmistakable warmth. In "The Girls Don't Care," he needles those for whom expressions of love run counter to a painstakingly maintained ironic distance.
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August 28, 2008 This brutally efficient five-song playlist serves as a soundtrack for when you want to leave your house, hurry to an on-ramp, roar down a short stretch of highway, and abruptly take the next exit to your extremely nearby destination.
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August 13, 2008 Not every road trip is a symbol of celebration and freedom; sometimes you're just wallowing in grief, or perhaps fleeing the soul-shrapnelizing ruin you've created back home. Regardless of your misery's root cause, there's no better place to mourn ostentatiously than alone in a car late at night, when no one's around to witness your pitiful, spluttering sobs.
August 12, 2008 Horse Feathers' songs may have words, but in many ways, the band might as well play instrumentals. Its songs offer up rustic, vaguely doomstruck atmosphere more than they convey discrete hooks and distinct messages. With its gorgeous strings, "Curs in the Weeds" soothes even as it unsettles.
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August 8, 2008 Daniel Johnston's songs are all about deceptive simplicity: His work may be shrill and primitive, but his lyrical insight and innate gift for melody give him real justification to tote around the mantle of "genius." Covered here by The Twilight Sad, "Some Things Last a Long Time" says more than its surface would seem to indicate.
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August 7, 2008 Though Fleet Foxes' music often gets drenched in rich harmonies, "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" shows how much sonic and thematic ground the group can cover with one pure vocal and a couple of acoustic guitars.
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July 15, 2008 "Cath..." contains enough fodder for a feature-length think piece on the state of Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard's mind. A look at a young star whose fleeting fame can't mask her gnawing sadness, the song practically begs to be picked apart, its narrator psychoanalyzed for good measure.
July 14, 2008 By the time Lou Barlow opens his mouth to sing, Sebadoh's 1993 single "Soul and Fire" has already conveyed a knotty bundle of conflicting emotions: They're all there in the aching, deliberately paced opening notes. From there, Barlow catalogs a relationship's combustible ingredients before announcing, "I think our love is coming to an end."
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July 10, 2008 Sera Cahoone got her start playing drums for a few widely adored bands in the Pacific Northwest. But her self-titled, self-released 2006 album marked her as a fully formed talent.
July 1, 2008 Unabashedly cheerful, Bulat's "In the Night" is a perfect slab of shimmering girl-group pop, but it's no mere throwback gimmick. A young singer-songwriter from Toronto, Bulat invests the track with graceful effervescence and an innate understanding of momentum.
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June 18, 2008 Throughout "In the Evening," which Dalton would later record for her studio debut, she infuses a Leroy Carr song with bluesy, woozy weariness, drawing the sorrow out of every note. It's hard not to view the track through the prism of Dalton's haunted life.
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June 16, 2008 Where Yo La Tengo's "Tears Are in Your Eyes" possesses the heavy-lidded feel of shared sorrow (with a reassuring hint of optimism), Adem's cover opts for a tone of comparative comfort. His version also functions as a sort of Cliffs Notes to what Adem is all about: a figurative glass of warm milk for a world of nervous stomachs.
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June 5, 2008 When driving long distances, the crushing exhaustion and faceless landscapes can fade from memory in a nanosecond when accompanied by the perfect piece of adrenaline-infused music. These five tracks serve that purpose beautifully, so be sure to put them on for those moments when the landmarks are starting to whiz by in a joyously indistinct blur.
May 30, 2008 Minus the Bear's mystifyingly titled "I'm Totally Not Down with Rob's Alien," from the newly remastered and reissued 2004 EP They Make Beer Commercials Like This, houses a gorgeous, warmly rendered reflection on alienation and the bliss of youthful solitude.
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May 28, 2008 As dark as it gets, "Skinny Love," with its unforgettable steel-guitar hook, is too gorgeous to function as a true downer. Shout-along fodder for melancholy late-night drives, it announces Bon Iver as a budding powerhouse, not so much promising as fully formed.
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