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Alternative & Indie - Released May 15, 2020 | Ribbon Music

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A master of reinvention, Thao Nguyen has done it again. After exploring '90s alt-rock sounds, dramatic dance pop and hip-hop/folk hybrids, she's now chilling out—sonically, at least. Lyrically, she remains as thoughtful and self-probing as ever, questioning how to bridge the cultural gap between her background and who she is now. On the grabbing title track, which unfurls on a prowling rhythm, she dissects the brutal ripping apart of her home country by the Vietnam war: "I lost my city in the light of day/ Thick smoke, helicopter blades/ Why would I bother to remember when our people, baby, die and live again?" The slinky "Phenom" rides a pulsing bass, with Nguyen coming on like Peaches with sophisticated restraint. "Lion on the Hunt" and "Rational Animal" recalls an edgier Morcheeba. Throughout, there are delightful surprises: the bright keyboards and guitar of "How Could I"; the pops of percussion rattling like silverware in a kitchen drawer on "Lion on the Hunt"; the woozy lullaby vibe of closer "Marrow." © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

Alternative & Indie - Released March 4, 2016 | Ribbon Music

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Having constructed prior albums with the likes of Tucker Martine (the Decemberists, Camera Obscura) and John Congleton (St. Vincent, FFS), bandleader Thao Nguyen enlisted longtime side project collaborator Merrill Garbus to produce her band's fourth LP, A Man Alive. A match that sounds as good on the final product as it does on paper, Garbus brings the musical moxie associated with her tUnE-yArDs outfit and reinforces that same quality in Thao & the Get Down Stay Down for an especially muscular outing. The opening track, "Astonished Man," hits big with funky riffs and the intimidating promise "You don't look for me how I will look for you." An album mostly about abandonment ("We are not born for departure, but we do learn to take it"), specifically inspired by Nguyen's relationship with her father, underlying indignation creeps through the vocals even when singing about forgiveness, and is always present in the production. Rumbling bass and gritty drum and guitar tones continue on "Slash/Burn," which also offers colorful, trilled accents woven through looped background vocals. Punctuated by Nguyen's uniquely serrated vocals, the energy seems to peak with the infectious stomp-along "Nobody Dies" before branching into slinky R&B and, later, hip-hop that would be unexpected but for the sheer musical chutzpah of the record as a whole. One such standout is "Meticulous Bird," a ferocious exhibit of voluble rap ("You had a dalliance with valiance, a violence to vow against…") that turns the dial back up to ten with a booming groove and alternately controlled and unrestrained vocals. Creative songcraft and catching melodies are also in full force here, as expected by this point from Nguyen, though the strongest impact of the A Man Alive may be the temerity of its sound -- thankfully, there's no need to separate the two. Even at 12 tracks, the album will leave many wanting more (and more Nguyen-Garbus collabs). © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 3, 2020 | Ribbon Music

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 10, 2020 | Ribbon Music

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 10, 2015 | Ribbon Music

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 1, 2014 | Polyvinyl Records

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Children - Released July 22, 2014 | Amano Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 11, 2020 | Ribbon Music

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 18, 2014 | Yep Roc Records

Alternative & Indie - Released February 11, 2016 | Ribbon Music

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