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Eyvind Kang, Wye Oak, and more new and noteworthy 

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The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Always Foreign (Epitaph) – The Connecticut band with the world’s longest name single-handedly perfected the “grim twee” genre, mixing bubbly arrangements with serious, even grave, lyrics. Yet on Always Foreign, singer David Bello pushes as far in entertaining demons as have bands like Dirty Projectors. In this case, the effort is fascinating on tracks like “Marine Tigers,” though there’s a sense that by focusing on governments collapsing and friends succumbing to drugs, Bello has set aside the first half of the band’s name and is emphasizing the second.

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Eyvind Kang, Plainlight (Abduction) –
Viola player Evyind Kang cut his teeth with experimentalists like John Zorn and Sun City Girls, but lately has become the go-to session musician for everyone from The Decemberists to Sam Beam. With his first solo album in five years, Kang has assembled traditional Korean musicians for three extended minimalist instrumental works. The side-long “Sanjaya the Sceptic” track even features a dedicated conductor, Won Min Kim, heading a nine-person ensemble that delivers hypnotic ambient sounds.

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Wye Oak, “Spiral” b/w “Wave Is Not the Water” (Merge) – Jenn Wasner’s turn from guitar goddess to synthesizer mystic always seemed problematic, but in this single, she fuses the two sides of her personality successfully, giving us a hint of a future Wye Oak that may follow the trail blazed by St. Vincent and Torres.

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