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click to enlarge Modest Mouse  - We Were Dead Before the Ship - Even Sank  -  -  - Epic / Release date: March 20 -  -  - Sounds like: Talking Heads meets the ... Trail - of Dead -  - Short take: Former indie act keeps cred -  - Modest Mouse finally escaped its obscure alt-rock act - orbit with the release of the popular Good News For - People Who Love Bad News. While the single "Float - On" was the Washington band's first foray into the Top - 40, the rest of the 2004 album was filled with more - misses than hits. Three years later, Modest Mouse is - back with We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank - , which is arguably its most focused album to date. - Singer-guitarist Isaac Brock's vocal eccentricities finally - match the band's musical output, with the alluring - "People as Places as People" and the epic "Spitting - Venom" standing out. In particular, the latter track's - guitar-jam coda is something special. There's no doubt - Modest Mouse finds new life on this 14-track thinking- - person's album.  John Benson
  • Modest Mouse

    We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

    Epic / Release date: March 20

    Sounds like: Talking Heads meets the ... Trail of Dead

    Short take: Former indie act keeps cred

    Modest Mouse finally escaped its obscure alt-rock act orbit with the release of the popular Good News For People Who Love Bad News. While the single "Float On" was the Washington band's first foray into the Top 40, the rest of the 2004 album was filled with more misses than hits. Three years later, Modest Mouse is back with We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank , which is arguably its most focused album to date. Singer-guitarist Isaac Brock's vocal eccentricities finally match the band's musical output, with the alluring "People as Places as People" and the epic "Spitting Venom" standing out. In particular, the latter track's guitar-jam coda is something special. There's no doubt Modest Mouse finds new life on this 14-track thinking- person's album. John Benson

click to enlarge Air  - Pocket Symphony  -  -  - Astralwerks  -  - Sounds like: Stereolab meets Thievery - Corporation, spiked with Kruder & Dorfmeister -  - Short take: Great to zone out to -  - Following up on their eversweet Talkie Walkie - album from 2004, the inventive French duo, Air, returns - with another atmospheric, largely instrumental record. - And Pocket Symphony is dreamy, somber and - beautiful. Along with Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas - Godin's standard whispery harmonizings, guest vocalists - Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon blend seamlessly into the - music's ether. Additional cheers belong to Godin for - spending some of his time between albums learning - classical Japanese instruments that lend a fun, harp-like - accent to many tracks' piano meanderings. Sure, this - album ain't no Moon Safari (1998), but songs - like "Once Upon a Time" reveal the band at the apex of - its craft, still.  Matthew - Schniper
  • Air

    Pocket Symphony

    Astralwerks

    Sounds like: Stereolab meets Thievery Corporation, spiked with Kruder & Dorfmeister

    Short take: Great to zone out to

    Following up on their eversweet Talkie Walkie album from 2004, the inventive French duo, Air, returns with another atmospheric, largely instrumental record. And Pocket Symphony is dreamy, somber and beautiful. Along with Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin's standard whispery harmonizings, guest vocalists Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon blend seamlessly into the music's ether. Additional cheers belong to Godin for spending some of his time between albums learning classical Japanese instruments that lend a fun, harp-like accent to many tracks' piano meanderings. Sure, this album ain't no Moon Safari (1998), but songs like "Once Upon a Time" reveal the band at the apex of its craft, still. Matthew Schniper

click to enlarge Korn  - MTV Unplugged  -  -  - Virgin  -  - Sounds like: Korn channels Radiohead when - issues come undone -  - Short take: Keen songwriting means - unplugged train wreck diverted -  - There's just something wrong with "Korn" and - "unplugged" being mentioned in the same breath. But - the success of any unplugged effort always comes down - to one thing: songwriting. And as Korn fans know, this - band has consistently transcended the banal din of its - peers for over a decade. Unplugged works, with - strings and heavy percussion picking up the slack. Fan - favorites "Blind" and "Falling Away From Me" are keepers, - but the unexpected cover of Radiohead's "Creep" - complete with a falsetto Davis, singing in a kilt - singlehandedly encapsulates Korn's despondent - insecurities and outsider ethos. Invariably, the album - isn't as much of a converter as it is a gift to the group's - loyal following.  John Benson
  • Korn

    MTV Unplugged

    Virgin

    Sounds like: Korn channels Radiohead when issues come undone

    Short take: Keen songwriting means unplugged train wreck diverted

    There's just something wrong with "Korn" and "unplugged" being mentioned in the same breath. But the success of any unplugged effort always comes down to one thing: songwriting. And as Korn fans know, this band has consistently transcended the banal din of its peers for over a decade. Unplugged works, with strings and heavy percussion picking up the slack. Fan favorites "Blind" and "Falling Away From Me" are keepers, but the unexpected cover of Radiohead's "Creep" complete with a falsetto Davis, singing in a kilt singlehandedly encapsulates Korn's despondent insecurities and outsider ethos. Invariably, the album isn't as much of a converter as it is a gift to the group's loyal following. John Benson

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