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click to enlarge Lyle Lovett and His Large Band  - It's Not Big It's Large  -  -  - Lost Highway  -  - Sounds like: A superstar atop his game -  - Short take: Material, not size, matters  and - Lovett's got the material -  - If we've learned anything from Lyle Lovett's long and - storied career, it's that pegging his musical directions is - like predicting the weather. This esteemed songwriter is - either a Texas tornado or a Lone Star breeze, having - covered everything from country, folk and swing to pop - and hints of rock. For Lovett's 13th studio project, - It's Not Big It's Large, we get a little bit of - everything. While the big-band material (see "Tickle - Toe") is invariably filler, Lovett gets to the marrow - quickly on the back porch-esque "Up in Indiana," which - features his quintessentially cerebral take on the - Nashville pop sound. Naturally, it's more roots and less - gloss, but Lovett's songwriting remains sharp and - poignant decades after arriving on the singer-songwriter - scene.  John Benson
  • Lyle Lovett and His Large Band

    It's Not Big It's Large

    Lost Highway

    Sounds like: A superstar atop his game

    Short take: Material, not size, matters and Lovett's got the material

    If we've learned anything from Lyle Lovett's long and storied career, it's that pegging his musical directions is like predicting the weather. This esteemed songwriter is either a Texas tornado or a Lone Star breeze, having covered everything from country, folk and swing to pop and hints of rock. For Lovett's 13th studio project, It's Not Big It's Large, we get a little bit of everything. While the big-band material (see "Tickle Toe") is invariably filler, Lovett gets to the marrow quickly on the back porch-esque "Up in Indiana," which features his quintessentially cerebral take on the Nashville pop sound. Naturally, it's more roots and less gloss, but Lovett's songwriting remains sharp and poignant decades after arriving on the singer-songwriter scene. John Benson

click to enlarge Sixtoo  - Jackals and Vipers in Envy of Man -  -  -  - Ninja Tune  -  - Sounds like: DJ Shadow's most well-schooled - protg -  - Sound take: A great producer shuts up -  - Sixtoo's own rapping isn't terrible, per se, but it's hard to - take. The man often stumbles behind his own beats, and - he overenunciates. Thankfully, Sixtoo doesn't rap on - Jackals and Vipers in Envy of Man. He's been - scaling back his vocals (his last record, Chewing on - Glass & Other Miracle Cures, only had him severely - cut up  i.e. at his most palatable), and now, he's - foregone vocals completely, showcasing his ample skills - as producer and beatsmith. The 13 untitled tracks - feature live songs spliced with studio material, - dynamically heavy beats, cascading found sounds and - apocalyptic atmospheres. Whether by subtle suggestion - or clearer thinking, Sixtoo's doing things correctly here, - not disqualifying his own work but letting it fill a room - with surreptitious showboating.  Matt - Martin
  • Sixtoo

    Jackals and Vipers in Envy of Man

    Ninja Tune

    Sounds like: DJ Shadow's most well-schooled protg

    Sound take: A great producer shuts up

    Sixtoo's own rapping isn't terrible, per se, but it's hard to take. The man often stumbles behind his own beats, and he overenunciates. Thankfully, Sixtoo doesn't rap on Jackals and Vipers in Envy of Man. He's been scaling back his vocals (his last record, Chewing on Glass & Other Miracle Cures, only had him severely cut up i.e. at his most palatable), and now, he's foregone vocals completely, showcasing his ample skills as producer and beatsmith. The 13 untitled tracks feature live songs spliced with studio material, dynamically heavy beats, cascading found sounds and apocalyptic atmospheres. Whether by subtle suggestion or clearer thinking, Sixtoo's doing things correctly here, not disqualifying his own work but letting it fill a room with surreptitious showboating. Matt Martin

click to enlarge Film School  - Hideout  -  -  - Beggars Banquet  -  - Sounds like: A sonic daydream set to music -  - Short take: A memorable session -  - Let the shoegazing begin. Film School arrived from Los - Angeles early last year with a sublime and mesmerizing - self-titled debut that featured anthems locked and - loaded for dreaming the day away. The same mindset - applies to Hideout. Its tender, sonic guitar - melodies ("Dear Me" and "Compare") and off-kilter - rhythms ("Florida" and "Capitalized I") provide an alluring - soundscape of opportunity. While the 13 tracks aren't - perfect, they're enough to make Hideout a - success. Specifically, the guitar-riddled "Lectric" stands - out as the album's best, harkening back to a breezy - nature first visited on the band's debut. Newcomers to - this still-underrated band are best advised to view both - full-lengths as fitting counterparts in an emotional and - cinematic journey.  John Benson
  • Film School

    Hideout

    Beggars Banquet

    Sounds like: A sonic daydream set to music

    Short take: A memorable session

    Let the shoegazing begin. Film School arrived from Los Angeles early last year with a sublime and mesmerizing self-titled debut that featured anthems locked and loaded for dreaming the day away. The same mindset applies to Hideout. Its tender, sonic guitar melodies ("Dear Me" and "Compare") and off-kilter rhythms ("Florida" and "Capitalized I") provide an alluring soundscape of opportunity. While the 13 tracks aren't perfect, they're enough to make Hideout a success. Specifically, the guitar-riddled "Lectric" stands out as the album's best, harkening back to a breezy nature first visited on the band's debut. Newcomers to this still-underrated band are best advised to view both full-lengths as fitting counterparts in an emotional and cinematic journey. John Benson

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