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click to enlarge Bill Callahan  - Woke on a Whaleheart  -  -  - Drag City  -  - Sounds like: A stoned Leonard Cohen -  - Short take: The Smog has lifted -  - The artist formerly known as Smog and (Smog) has - dropped the aliases on his 13th disc, insead choosing to - go by his birth name, Bill Callahan. Why? Not sure, but - Callahan has never sounded so complete. Unlike his - previous albums, which were excessively lo-fi and - stripped down, Whaleheart lets the music do - more of the talking. His spoken-word-like style is still in - full baritone effect, but while it's still the dominant - sound, it's not lonely. The sounds work quite well - together, especially on fully instrument-fused tracks like - "Sycamore," "Diamond Dancer" and "Footprints." In all, - the songs on Whaleheart aren't as depressing as - past Smog efforts have been. Sure, they continue to be - dark-humored, but they're warmer than ever. And that's - a good thing.  Pete Freedman
  • Bill Callahan

    Woke on a Whaleheart

    Drag City

    Sounds like: A stoned Leonard Cohen

    Short take: The Smog has lifted

    The artist formerly known as Smog and (Smog) has dropped the aliases on his 13th disc, insead choosing to go by his birth name, Bill Callahan. Why? Not sure, but Callahan has never sounded so complete. Unlike his previous albums, which were excessively lo-fi and stripped down, Whaleheart lets the music do more of the talking. His spoken-word-like style is still in full baritone effect, but while it's still the dominant sound, it's not lonely. The sounds work quite well together, especially on fully instrument-fused tracks like "Sycamore," "Diamond Dancer" and "Footprints." In all, the songs on Whaleheart aren't as depressing as past Smog efforts have been. Sure, they continue to be dark-humored, but they're warmer than ever. And that's a good thing. Pete Freedman

click to enlarge Arctic Monkeys  - Favourite Worst Nightmare  -  -  - Domino  -  - Sounds like: Franz Ferdinand's sexy, punk - cousin -  - Short take: A diverse, energetic, match-the- - hype album -  - When the Arctic Monkeys released their first album, - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, - in January 2006, it simply exploded, becoming the - fastest-selling debut in U.K. history. Lead singer Alex - Turner, a mere 21, earned cred for smart, quippy lyrics - and the band's fast sound, exemplified by scoot-enticing - tracks like "Dancing Shoes." This release carries the - torch, with a surf, ska, punk and dancy pop blend and - superb musicianship by all. Superspeed cymbals, groovy - bass lines and quick-finger guitar-picking light up - tracks like "Brianstorm" and "Balaclava," while momentary - pauses for melodic bridgework allow for dynamic, - stacatto transitions throughout. Nightmare will - surely be an album to beat for the year; it's definitely - worth playing the hell out of for the time being.  - Matthew Schniper
  • Arctic Monkeys

    Favourite Worst Nightmare

    Domino

    Sounds like: Franz Ferdinand's sexy, punk cousin

    Short take: A diverse, energetic, match-the- hype album

    When the Arctic Monkeys released their first album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, in January 2006, it simply exploded, becoming the fastest-selling debut in U.K. history. Lead singer Alex Turner, a mere 21, earned cred for smart, quippy lyrics and the band's fast sound, exemplified by scoot-enticing tracks like "Dancing Shoes." This release carries the torch, with a surf, ska, punk and dancy pop blend and superb musicianship by all. Superspeed cymbals, groovy bass lines and quick-finger guitar-picking light up tracks like "Brianstorm" and "Balaclava," while momentary pauses for melodic bridgework allow for dynamic, stacatto transitions throughout. Nightmare will surely be an album to beat for the year; it's definitely worth playing the hell out of for the time being. Matthew Schniper

click to enlarge Klaxons  - Myths of the Near Future  -  -  - Geffen/Polydor  -  - Sounds like: The Rapture with monocles and - mohawks -  - Short take: This dancefloor-ready pop-rock - might be too wordy -  - The Klaxons aren't as weird as they hope they are, but - that doesn't make them in any way bad. The - rave-scene-deportees-turned-rawk-anthem-shriekers - seem at first glance to be utterly literary  their lyrics - make allusions to Thomas Pynchon, Marcel Proust, J.G. - Ballard and William S. Burroughs. But really, their debut - CD, Myths of the Near Future, is as cerebral as a - mosh pit, made by smart guys who know when to play - dumb. Myths is filled with immediate songs - where the choruses are just vehicles of the melodies, but - the words  which center around centaurs, cyclops and - science fiction  are lost in rowdy, electrified rock. - Bookworms like good times too, and these boys prove - they can be as rambunctious as anyone.  Matt - Martin
  • Klaxons

    Myths of the Near Future

    Geffen/Polydor

    Sounds like: The Rapture with monocles and mohawks

    Short take: This dancefloor-ready pop-rock might be too wordy

    The Klaxons aren't as weird as they hope they are, but that doesn't make them in any way bad. The rave-scene-deportees-turned-rawk-anthem-shriekers seem at first glance to be utterly literary their lyrics make allusions to Thomas Pynchon, Marcel Proust, J.G. Ballard and William S. Burroughs. But really, their debut CD, Myths of the Near Future, is as cerebral as a mosh pit, made by smart guys who know when to play dumb. Myths is filled with immediate songs where the choruses are just vehicles of the melodies, but the words which center around centaurs, cyclops and science fiction are lost in rowdy, electrified rock. Bookworms like good times too, and these boys prove they can be as rambunctious as anyone. Matt Martin

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