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click to enlarge Laura Veirs  - Saltbreakers  -  -  - Nonesuch  -  - Sounds like: Aimee Mann and Rufus - Wainwright on a sea voyage -  - Short take: Salt, wind and water combine in - stormy, romantic pop -  - Though Laura Veirs grew up in Colorado Springs, it's the - Pacific Ocean that pervades her new album, - Saltbreakers. Veirs' voice lends itself to - maritime metaphors; her steady, childlike call floats over - piano-driven rock, never pitching toward emotion. "Pink - Light" and "Ocean Night Song" hark back to the yearning - and open choruses of Veir's 2005 Year of Meteors - . But the Portland-based artist branches out; the - record skitters over lullabies, gritty anthems and a Sufjan - Stevens-esque country track, replete with female chorus - ("To the Country"). The album's true gem, though, is a - waltz: "Drink Deep" contrasts fire and soot with - quenching water, spelling relief in methodical three- - step. Veirs trips up when she forces the ocean imagery, - but she ultimately redeems herself in this sweeping, - albeit restrained, record.  Naomi Zeveloff -
  • Laura Veirs

    Saltbreakers

    Nonesuch

    Sounds like: Aimee Mann and Rufus Wainwright on a sea voyage

    Short take: Salt, wind and water combine in stormy, romantic pop

    Though Laura Veirs grew up in Colorado Springs, it's the Pacific Ocean that pervades her new album, Saltbreakers. Veirs' voice lends itself to maritime metaphors; her steady, childlike call floats over piano-driven rock, never pitching toward emotion. "Pink Light" and "Ocean Night Song" hark back to the yearning and open choruses of Veir's 2005 Year of Meteors . But the Portland-based artist branches out; the record skitters over lullabies, gritty anthems and a Sufjan Stevens-esque country track, replete with female chorus ("To the Country"). The album's true gem, though, is a waltz: "Drink Deep" contrasts fire and soot with quenching water, spelling relief in methodical three- step. Veirs trips up when she forces the ocean imagery, but she ultimately redeems herself in this sweeping, albeit restrained, record. Naomi Zeveloff

click to enlarge Dinosaur Jr.  - Beyond  -  -  - Fat Possum   -  - Sounds like: That one band that toured with - Sonic Youth back in the day -  - Short take: The original three reunite for a - fourth sonic meltdown -  - Two years ago, when the original members of Dinosaur - Jr. went on a tour to promote re-releases of old songs - from their relatively anti-commercial glory days, - something happened. Things were OK between bassist - Lou Barlow and the guy who booted him from the band - in 1989, singer/guitarist J. Mascis. Now these forefathers - of alt rock have come full circle. The CD kick-starts with - bleary-eyed distortion on "Almost Ready," unleashes - punk spirits on "Been There All the Time," and finds time - for acoustic, but pulsing, brooding on "I Got Lost." Both - Mascis and Barlow write on this smear of bass and - guitars held together by Murph's tight drums. Though - none of the songs match post-Barlow hits like 1994's - "Feel the Pain," Beyond recovers a raw sound - once thought lost.   Michael de Yoanna -
  • Dinosaur Jr.

    Beyond

    Fat Possum

    Sounds like: That one band that toured with Sonic Youth back in the day

    Short take: The original three reunite for a fourth sonic meltdown

    Two years ago, when the original members of Dinosaur Jr. went on a tour to promote re-releases of old songs from their relatively anti-commercial glory days, something happened. Things were OK between bassist Lou Barlow and the guy who booted him from the band in 1989, singer/guitarist J. Mascis. Now these forefathers of alt rock have come full circle. The CD kick-starts with bleary-eyed distortion on "Almost Ready," unleashes punk spirits on "Been There All the Time," and finds time for acoustic, but pulsing, brooding on "I Got Lost." Both Mascis and Barlow write on this smear of bass and guitars held together by Murph's tight drums. Though none of the songs match post-Barlow hits like 1994's "Feel the Pain," Beyond recovers a raw sound once thought lost. Michael de Yoanna

click to enlarge Low  - Drums and Guns  -  -  - Sub Pop  -  - Sounds like: The Great Destroyer, but - heavier -  - Short take: A new Low (that's a good thing ...) -  - Low, after having basically created and defined the genre - of slowcore, abandoned the pensive brooding for much - louder rock on 2005's The Great Destroyer. - Upping the amps, energy and BPMs made for a risky - move, but it paid off in spades. While purists scoffed at - Low's audacity, the rest of the world bobbed their heads, - and Destroyer made year-end best-of lists - across the board. With its eighth album, Drums and - Guns, Low stays Destroyer's course  and - maybe even grows harder. The Iraq war ignites lead - singer Alan Sparhawk's indignation  he can't possibly - grumble about his own shortcomings when he's got a - world to scold, attacking mercenaries, politicians and - religious leaders. Musically, the band follows suit, - coming up with Low's most rough-hewn album yet, full - of grinding rock cuts and pissed-off riffs.  - Matt Martin
  • Low

    Drums and Guns

    Sub Pop

    Sounds like: The Great Destroyer, but heavier

    Short take: A new Low (that's a good thing ...)

    Low, after having basically created and defined the genre of slowcore, abandoned the pensive brooding for much louder rock on 2005's The Great Destroyer. Upping the amps, energy and BPMs made for a risky move, but it paid off in spades. While purists scoffed at Low's audacity, the rest of the world bobbed their heads, and Destroyer made year-end best-of lists across the board. With its eighth album, Drums and Guns, Low stays Destroyer's course and maybe even grows harder. The Iraq war ignites lead singer Alan Sparhawk's indignation he can't possibly grumble about his own shortcomings when he's got a world to scold, attacking mercenaries, politicians and religious leaders. Musically, the band follows suit, coming up with Low's most rough-hewn album yet, full of grinding rock cuts and pissed-off riffs. Matt Martin

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