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click to enlarge Sigur R's  -  - Takk  - Fat Cat Sigur Rs has amazing patience and - restraint. Their fourth album, Takk ("thanks" in - Icelandic), doesn't find its most impressive release until - five minutes into "Milano," the seventh track, which - slowly builds from hushed piano arpeggios and violins - into a giant crescendo of beautiful howls in a wash of - loud drums, guitars and strings. But that isn't to say - Takk is restrained, at least not by Sigur Rs - standards. In fact, it's their most colorful album yet. - Their now-signature style of sonic peaks and valleys is - energized by heavier beats and shorter songs. "Gong" is - a driving five-minute epic, while the closer, "Heysata," is - the closest the band has come to a pop ballad. - Takk is Sigur Rs' best yet, a marriage of the - minimalism found on ( ) and the lush - orchestration of Agaetis Byrjun. -- - Elliott Johnston
  • Sigur R's

    Takk
    Fat Cat

    Sigur Rs has amazing patience and restraint. Their fourth album, Takk ("thanks" in Icelandic), doesn't find its most impressive release until five minutes into "Milano," the seventh track, which slowly builds from hushed piano arpeggios and violins into a giant crescendo of beautiful howls in a wash of loud drums, guitars and strings. But that isn't to say Takk is restrained, at least not by Sigur Rs standards. In fact, it's their most colorful album yet. Their now-signature style of sonic peaks and valleys is energized by heavier beats and shorter songs. "Gong" is a driving five-minute epic, while the closer, "Heysata," is the closest the band has come to a pop ballad. Takk is Sigur Rs' best yet, a marriage of the minimalism found on ( ) and the lush orchestration of Agaetis Byrjun. -- Elliott Johnston

click to enlarge Fruit Bats  -  - Spelled in Bones  - Sub Pop Their thick glasses and besweatered - torsos might push the passive observer into believing - the Fruit Bats are yet another crybaby emo band. In - reality, they're so sunshine-y that they'd be more at - home in a '60s beach movie (minus the sweaters). "Silent - Life," with its steel guitar, synths and acoustic - strumming, is Exhibit A. Sweet harmonies underscore - thoughtful, sometimes stream-of-consciousness, - Modest Mouse-like lyrics. "There is peace in the belly of - the beast," sings head Bat Eric Johnson in "TV Waves," a - simple, nostalgic tune that's downright Lennonian. The - cinematic and too-true taste of "You hurt your foot roller - skating down by the bay/And you lost your voice singing - along to 'Raspberry Beret'" in "The Earthquake of '73" is - just plain wonderful. -- Kara Luger
  • Fruit Bats

    Spelled in Bones
    Sub Pop

    Their thick glasses and besweatered torsos might push the passive observer into believing the Fruit Bats are yet another crybaby emo band. In reality, they're so sunshine-y that they'd be more at home in a '60s beach movie (minus the sweaters). "Silent Life," with its steel guitar, synths and acoustic strumming, is Exhibit A. Sweet harmonies underscore thoughtful, sometimes stream-of-consciousness, Modest Mouse-like lyrics. "There is peace in the belly of the beast," sings head Bat Eric Johnson in "TV Waves," a simple, nostalgic tune that's downright Lennonian. The cinematic and too-true taste of "You hurt your foot roller skating down by the bay/And you lost your voice singing along to 'Raspberry Beret'" in "The Earthquake of '73" is just plain wonderful. -- Kara Luger

click to enlarge Silver Jews  -  - Tanglewood Numbers  -  - Drag City Best line from the album: "I'd rather - live in a garbage can/Than see you happy with another - man." But attention-grabbing lines from David Berman's - songs are common. His book of poetry, Actual Air - , got more bona-fide literary praise than most - musicians can muster. (Even Dylan fans admit - Tarantula sucked.) Stephen Malkmus and Will - Oldham both appear on Tanglewood Numbers, - but it's the warm vibes throughout the album that really - work and start to smell up your clothes. Listening - toit feels like driving in a convertible on a - Nashville strip, stopping intermittently at Sonic, gas - stations and neon-lit bars -- only none of the lights give - you a headache. You just tap your feet, chuckle a bit and - play it again when it ends. -- Elliott Johnston -
  • Silver Jews

    Tanglewood Numbers
    Drag City

    Best line from the album: "I'd rather live in a garbage can/Than see you happy with another man." But attention-grabbing lines from David Berman's songs are common. His book of poetry, Actual Air , got more bona-fide literary praise than most musicians can muster. (Even Dylan fans admit Tarantula sucked.) Stephen Malkmus and Will Oldham both appear on Tanglewood Numbers, but it's the warm vibes throughout the album that really work and start to smell up your clothes. Listening toit feels like driving in a convertible on a Nashville strip, stopping intermittently at Sonic, gas stations and neon-lit bars -- only none of the lights give you a headache. You just tap your feet, chuckle a bit and play it again when it ends. -- Elliott Johnston

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