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Alternative & Indie - Released December 25, 2017 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 3, 2020 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 12, 2020 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 25, 2013 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 25, 2014 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 31, 2020 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 11, 2007 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 13, 2012 | Jagjaguwar

Booklet
When Sharon Van Etten issued the ironically titled seven-song Epic in 2009, it stood in stark contrast to her 2007 debut, Because I Was in Love. On the latter record, she employed a full-on rock band, her songwriting gained a more defined precision, and her singing voice -- even at its most vulnerable -- seemed to speak with a confidence that didn't seem to need any frame of reference other than its own. Tramp is titled for the period of post-relationship uncertainty and the period of homelessness Van Etten experienced during its 14-month recording process. Produced by the National's Aaron Dessner, who puts the songwriter's fine singing voice front and center, it features guest appearances by Zach Condon, Julianna Barwick, and more. "Warsaw," with its jagged electric guitars, bass, halting keyboards, and primitive, tom-tom heavy drums, is a shambling illustration of what's to be found here. Van Etten's protagonist is still vulnerable, but she wills herself toward a horizon past it. Likewise, the set's first single "Serpents," with its rumbling guitars and cracking snares, frankly discusses being physically and emotionally abused, but it comes from the other side, her protagonist is out of the situation, refusing to be a victim. Jenn Wassner's backing vocals in every line transform this into an anthem of survival. Not everything here falls down the rock & roll rabbit hole, however. Acoustically driven ballads such as "Kevin's," "All I Can," and "Leonard" highlight her subject's character defects and vulnerabilities as well as those of her significant other's. Van Etten's lyrics accuse as much as they confess and empathize. More often than not, her subject is the one who leaves, rather than the one left; the reasons are myriad: betrayal, co-dependency, a willingness toward an emotional freedom that allows love itself to dictate what it expects. There is great beauty on Tramp, especially in its last third; from the jaunty, acoustic stroll of "We Are Fine" to the multi-textured, nearly psych-pop of "I'm Wrong," to the airy, drifting closer "Joke or a Lie." For all this, Van Etten skirts the edges of giving us a great album without actually delivering one. Perhaps it's the exhaustive, confessional nature of its songs, its reliance on three basic melodic ideas, or even its length. Whatever the reason(s), Tramp doesn't quite fulfill its considerable promise. But this isn't a criticism; Van Etten is still a young, developing songwriter who gets more sophisticated with each album. As such, Tramp offers plenty for listeners to enjoy as she goes. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 4, 2015 | Jagjaguwar

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International Pop - Released January 16, 2020 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 17, 2019 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 2, 2018 | Jagjaguwar

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Spencer Krug, the leader of Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown, has been releasing solo material under the handle Moonface since 2011. In advance of the release of Moonface's 2018 album This One's for the Dancer & This One's for the Dancer's Bouquet, Krug announced that it would be his last Moonface project, and that any future solo work would be issued under his own name. It's tempting to view This One's for the Dancer & This One's for the Dancer's Bouquet as a summing up for the Moonface era, or possibly as a way to clear out the project's odds and ends. In the press materials for This One's for the Dancer, Krug revealed that the album was compiled from material originally recorded for two different albums, using different collaborators and recorded at different times and places. While the material coheres well enough, the songs reflect two points of view -- some of the songs are written from the perspective of Spencer Krug himself, while the others reflect the thoughts of a Minotaur trapped in a maze who wants to forgive the fellow mythological figures responsible for its plight. In both sets of songs, repetitive keyboard patterns create a steady pulse and melodic anchor. In Krug's numbers, the singing is bold in its Bowie-esque delivery and booms out over the accompaniment, which includes periodic interjections from a sax player. Elsewhere, the voice of the Minotaur is distorted and low in the mix, while the keyboards square off against energetic percussion that includes steel drums and marimba along with trap drums. While it's not too hard to sort out the shifting perspectives of the tunes, it's often quite difficult to figure out what the Minotaur is supposed to be saying, which makes for a sometimes uncomfortable contrast to the soul-bearing theatricalism of Krug's tunes. Either way, This One's for the Dancer & This One's for the Dancer's Bouquet is an album that is sometimes compelling in its hypnotic, minimalist sonic constructs but repeats itself too often to be as effective as it could have been. And some judicious editing would have served this music well; this simply didn't need to be a double album. (And it's possible that the material would have been better served in its original form as two separate albums rather than grafted together as it was here.) There's much to admire in This One's for the Dancer & This One's for the Dancer's Bouquet, but the good ideas don't always sustain themselves in the execution, and perhaps the coming Spencer Krug projects will reflect a concision and clarity of focus that is not always apparent here. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 10, 2018 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 18, 2005 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 13, 2009 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 10, 2012 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 28, 2013 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 8, 2011 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 14, 2011 | Jagjaguwar

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 7, 2009 | Jagjaguwar

Booklet
With Oneida’s ambitions running skyward in the digital age, for Rated O they took the risk of all risks and released a triple album. Self-indulgent as that may seem, recording in bulk works especially well for the rhythmic Brooklynites. Considering that they have often prided themselves on both being experimental and taking repetition to the limit, a long running time of 108 minutes only feels natural -- and with such a huge canvas to work with, they expand their palette accordingly, adding some new styles to the mix to maintain interest throughout. Disc one is a huge departure from their prior post-rock material, where they go the Fuck Buttons glitch route and use a wealth of electronics to create a long-running hypnotic groove. “Brownout in Lagos” starts the show as a fuzzed-out dub loop, complete with dancehall toasting by Dad-Ali Ziai. The motorik mayhem becomes more chaotic as the disc continues, eventually devolving into “The Human Factor,” a death-rattling scream coming out in the midst of sirens, a disjointed Gang of Four beat, and a meaty bass drone searching for the elusive brown note. It may be Oneida’s all-time most difficult piece, but luckily, all of the songs aren’t this relentlessly scary. Disc two ropes listeners back in with a more guitar-oriented, rock-based feel. The production is cavernous and haunting, and the riffs are beastly, making “Luxury Travel” sound something like a cross between Clinic and Isis. The dust clears for disc three, as the organ-guitar-drums trio explores its psychedelic side with three songs: “O,” a sitar trip-fest; “End of Time,” an organ drone and shaker; and the 20-plus-minute jam “Folk Wisdom.” Sure, it's exhausting, and there’s a fair share of filler, but that seems to be the point. As unruly as they are, all of Rated O's discs stand tall. © Jason Lymangrover /TiVo