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 V.18 No.4 | January 22 - 28, 2009 

Sonic Reducer

Bon Iver Blood Bank (Jagjaguwar)

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In its wintery new EP, Bon Iver siphons out a little more of the atmospheric soul that made its debut, For Emma, Forever Ago, a critical and commercial success. Founder Justin Vernon adds piano and pedal steel to the broth of layered vocals and acoustic guitar that constituted much of the debut. On "Woods," Vernon goes so far as to ape Kanye West by auto-tuning the living hell out of his vocals. Thankfully, "Woods" sounds like a soul ballad recorded under water, not a synthetic, trend-hunting farce. While expanding his pallet, Vernon stays true to the ice-cold but strangely reassuring atmosphere of For Emma. That should make fans happy and keep the folk-experimentation kicking. (SM)

Tonight: Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand (Sony)

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Franz Ferdinand cemented its sound with the infectiously plodding “Take Me Out” in 2004. If you’re looking for more, fast-forward to “Ulysses” and “Lucid Dreams.” But despite the rehashed album title, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand isn’t a replication of the band’s first two albums, with some psychedelia tossed into the Scottish club fever. Radio-friendly acid trips? Not enough to impair listening in the comfort of your car, anyway. (TA)

Reel Big Fish Fame, Fortune and Fornication (Rock Ridge Music)

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It's hard to resist the bouncy, skanky sound of Reel Big Fish. And even better, the new album covers songs that span genres and a generation before the band's time—from Tom Petty, Poison and Van Morrison, just to name a few. It’s been almost two decades since the big fish of Huntington Beach jumped into the mainstream pond (see title), and ska isn’t as big as it used to be. But you still can’t help but dance around to classic songs dolled up in third-wave ska fashion. (JH)

(SM) Simon McCormack, (TA) Tiffany Alberty, (JH) Justin Hood


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